Policymakers and benefit agencies can do more to protect people from making mistakes | News item

News item | 29-02-2024 | 15:05

People who apply for benefits or allowances regularly unintentionally violate the rules. Policymakers and benefit agencies are committed to preventing mistakes, but can do more to prevent people from making them. This is evident from the final advice ‘Prevention – A matter of doing!’, drawn up by the Prevention Team: an independent team of policymakers, benefit agencies and experts by experience led by Prof. Dr. Menno Fenger (professor of Public Administration at Erasmus University Rotterdam). Minister Van Gennip accepted their advice today.

The final advice brings together a lot of knowledge and experience. It provides an overview of good examples. These can inspire professionals at ministries, benefit agencies and municipalities to better help people when applying for benefits or allowances. To prevent unpleasant consequences of mistakes, such as chargebacks and fines.

Minister Van Gennip: As a government, we must rely more on trust in people. Not every mistake should lead to a fine. And of course it is even better to avoid mistakes. To achieve this, implementation must be given more space. We are working on a different enforcement system in social security to bring more balance between trust and enforcement in our legislation.

Policy and implementation are busy moving from enforcement to prevention. For example, UWV and SVB work with so-called customer journeys. This shows all contacts, actions and processes that someone makes through the various parts of the organization. In addition, new legislation or regulations are tested to determine whether people are able to do what the law requires of them. Another example is the prevention of non-culpable claims by municipalities. These are claims that arose due to a combination of an error by a benefit recipient and gaps in the municipality’s work processes. Municipalities prevent these types of situations by strengthening internal cooperation and optimizing services.

Another outcome is that it regularly happens that people assume that information is shared between government agencies. This is not always the case, but it is an understandable thought. It is therefore important to point out to people that they must also pass on information to another agency.

The final advice states that prevention should be more central by meeting and understanding benefit recipients more. The aim to prevent mistakes must trickle down into all processes within the organization.