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Dutch govt resigns after wrongly accusing parents of child welfare fraud

Dutch govt resigns after wrongly accusing parents of child welfare fraud
January 15
23:52 2021

Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands and members of his cabinet resigned from office on Friday, following a scandal that wrongly accused families of child welfare fraud.

The development comes a few weeks before planned parliamentary elections scheduled for March.

Under the fraud allegations, over 20,000 parents in the Netherlands had been labelled as fraudsters and asked to repay tens of thousands of euros, which led to unemployment, bankruptcies and divorces.

The government reclaimed the payment between 2013 and 2019, while Rutte was in charge.

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However, in December, parliamentary commission findings faulted the proceedings of authorities, the government and the courts, saying that the “basic principles of the rule of law have been violated”.

The prime minister, in a statement on Friday, apologised to the parents and said financial compensation will be given to the affected persons.

He said the decision of the cabinet to resign is because it wants justice for all those parents who have been “wronged unprecedentedly”.

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Rutte also noted that the cabinet will function in caretaker capacity till March when the parliamentary election will take place.

“That is why a whole new allowance system must be introduced, starting with the childcare allowance. Signs that things are not going well somewhere must surface much faster and lead to action much faster. And information provision must also be fundamentally overhauled,” Rutte said.

“For example, the documents that form the basis of a cabinet decision will from now on be made public and a list of decisions with explanatory notes will be published after each cabinet meeting.

“The question of political responsibility was also raised today. We are of one mind: if the whole system has failed, only joint responsibility can be borne. And that has led to the conclusion that I have just offered the King the resignation of the entire cabinet. And after this press conference, I will go to the palace to give further explanation to the King.

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On its part, the cabinet also apologised to parents and said it is taking a “substantial package of measures to help the parents who have been affected by the childcare allowance and their children more quickly and to prevent this from happening again”.

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