A while back we reported about a mistake the Dutch unemployement insurer UWV made in which 3,000 formerly unemployed entrepreneurs had—often accidentally—committed fraud during a UWV led worker reintegration program after having been given some incorrect advice. It was the UWV who then made sure these misinformed people were fined, and in some cases, criminally prosecuted.
After a scorching indictment by the Dutch ombudsman in 2010, a parliamentary committee led by Ruud Vreeman collected 2,000 complaints, approximately half of which were by people who had been misled by UWV and who should get their money back. UWV will pay out about 5.2 million euro to its victims, Volkskrant reports.
UWV has instated its own appeal committee for the remaining thousand complainants led by law professor Irene Asscher-Vonk, who has already concluded that “a significant number” of the appellants have also been unjustly accused. Apparently the Vreeman committee never looked at all the complaints in detail, something Asscher-Vonk wants to rectify:
Asscher-Vonk does not just want to do justice to the unjustly suspected entrepreneurs, she also thinks it is important that UWV not be portrayed as a bunch of crooks. It must answer to suspicions of benefits misuse. “Mistakes have been made, but mistakes are made everywhere. UWV is an important and indispensable institution, and the reparation of trust is important.”
Interestingly, UWV pays on average 5,000 euro back per victim, but originally fined them 15,000 euro on average. That means either UWV will not pay back everything, or the real fraud in that pool of 3,000 entrepreneurs has been taking the insurer for much more than fifteen grand a pop.
(Photo of Atelier van Lieshout’s “Food Cart” by me—part of the Art Zuid set)
Tags: benefits, crime, criminals, fraud, Ruud Vreeman, unemployment, unemployment benefits, UWV, work
UWV, the Dutch unemployment agency, is suing and sometimes prosecuting formerly unemployed people who followed UWV’s incorrect advice on how to report earnings. The victims participated in a scheme active from 2004 to 2006 in which they could start a company while still receiving benefits.
UWV’s argument revolves around the criterion for the amount of hours worked. Originally, the agency only counted billable hours, but since then it has started counting all hours that one puts into a business. UWV found discrepancies between what entrepreneurs reported to them and to the tax service. As databases of governmental agencies are linked, and the tax service gives single person companies certain breaks depending on the amount of hours they put in, it was easy for the agency to figure out the differences in hours reported.
NRC reports that people who have only recently recovered from unemployment have received fines as high as 50,000 euro, with an average of 15,000 euro. Ronald van der Krogt of union FNV says that as much as 42% of all participants in the reintegration program applied the rules incorrectly, in hindsight. “Allegedly those people are all frauds. You cannot maintain such a thing with a straight face. If that is the rule, then the rule is wrong. UWV are failing big time.”
Judges’ hands appear to be tied. A ruling from 1996 found that UWV’s most recent interpretation of the law is the correct one. (Which by the way strikes me as odd, since the reintegration program is a much more recent affair.) This means that even sitting at the office and reading a paper or picking your nose would have gotten you branded a fraud if you forgot to report those hours as work.
UWV has said it will take FNV’s complaints very seriously.
(Link: Geen Commentaar.)
Tags: benefits, FNV, unemployment, unemployment benefits, unions, UWV, work
UWV, the Dutch organisation responsible for unemployment benefits, is going to train 200 unemployed and inexperienced young people to become junior job counsellors, Z24 reports (Dutch).
The first batch of 100 university or polytechnic schooled young people will start training right away, so that they can get started on their new job on October 1. The economic crisis is particularly brutal on this segment of the population who often deal with this by staying in school longer (Dutch) in the hopes of waiting out the crisis. Youths can get a student loan for up to 7 years.
Tags: crisis, economic crisis, unemployment, UWV, work, young, youths