Decentralisation of government tasks

Since 2015 municipalities have been responsible for youth care, help for jobseekers, and healthcare services for the elderly and chronically ill. Municipalities have taken over some of these tasks from central government. This is known as decentralisation.

Local people who need help and guidance now receive all their help from one municipal employee. That employee follows a specific plan drawn up for the entire household. Municipalities are closer than central government to the local community. This means that they can provide care more effectively, with less bureaucracy and more cheaply.

New tasks for municipalities

Municipalities have been given some important new tasks. They are:

  • offering healthcare services to the elderly or chronically ill;
  • helping local people find work or paying their benefit;
  • providing youth care services.

Municipalities must be properly equipped to take on these new responsibilities. By working together or merging, municipalities can strengthen their administrative capacity. Central government has given municipalities considerable freedom in deciding how to carry out their new tasks.

Decentralisation measures

The government has taken a number of measures to help municipalities carry out their new tasks effectively. These include:

  • reducing the number of rules local residents have to comply with. Rules should be a simple as possible. Residents with complex questions have one point of contact;
  • funding for social tasks is being streamlined. Municipalities will receive one budget from the Municipalities Fund to foster social participation, making it easier for them to ensure the budget is properly spent and accounted for.

Municipalities are in the driving seat. They are responsible for implementing decentralisation. Municipalities carry out most decentralised tasks at local level. This means that they must work together on administration and finances. This is the only way that municipalities can fulfil their responsibilities and carry out their tasks effectively.

Almost every municipality is involved in a partnership for decentralised tasks relating to youth care or the Exceptional Medical Expenses Act (AWBZ). These partnerships have allowed municipalities to lose no time in taking the important first step towards effective implementation of decentralised tasks. For more information, see the Letter to parliament on municipal partnerships of 12 July 2013.

Supporting municipalities

Municipalities receive support from various sources, including the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations’ Municipalities of the Future programme. The programme’s web platform provides municipalities with all the resources they need to carry out the 3 types of decentralised task. This includes guides, best practices and events. The web platform also provides information on the support municipalities and partnerships receive from the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, such as guides, meetings and teams of experts. 

Municipalities also receive support via the Association of Netherlands Municipalities’ (VNG) Smart Partnerships project.