15.01.2021 | Mark Rutte resigns: Dutch cabinet quits after huge child benefit scandal
Source - The Daily Express
The Dutch prime minister’s coalition government will collectively stand down over a report that blamed them for mismanaging childcare allowances. The scandal saw many families plunged into financial ruin after they were ordered to repay the subsidies. A parliamentary inquiry last month concluded that “unprecedented injustice” had been done to innocent families.
The news emerged out of a cabinet meeting of Mr Rutte’s government, according to local media reports.
The veteran Dutch PM has been in charge for three terms, and is still set to contest a fourth during March's general election.
Mr Rutte is set to offer his registration to the King Willem-Alexander after the scandal, which critics claim targeted migrant families.
His government is now expected to stay on in a caretaker role until the parliamentary elections.
A cabinet source told Dutch public broadcaster NOS that the decision was collective and in “good harmony”.
The childcare subsidies scandal reportedly started in 2012, with claims the number of parents involved could be as high as 26,000.
One mother faced demands to pay back £42,000 to the taxman and was forced to plead with them.
Officials were said to have held back other benefits as well as childcare allowances.
The resignation comes at a critical time for Mr Rutte's government as it put under increasing pressure by the coronavirus pandemic.
Eric Wiebes, minister of economic affairs and climate policy, has resigned and will not be returning to the caretaker government for his part in the scandal.
He was key in overseeing the childcare allowances, it was reported by local media.
Opposition politician, Lodewijk Asscher, leader of the Labour party, who was a social affairs minister in a previous government, yesterday resigned.
He claimed knowledge of the tax authorities “wrongly hunting down thousands of families”.
He said the failed system had “made the government an enemy of its people”.