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'Terribly wrong': PM resigns over 6-year welfare scandal

Anastasia Santoreneos
·2-min read
Dutch resigning Prime Minister Mark Rutte gives a press conference in The Hague, on January 15, 2021, after the resignation of the cabinet due to the childcare allowance affair, in which tax officials falsely accused thousands of parents of fraud and ordered them to repay childcare benefits. - Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte's government resigned on January 15 over a child benefits scandal, media reported, threatening political turmoil as the country battles the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Bart Maat / ANP / AFP) / Netherlands OUT (Photo by BART MAAT/ANP/AFP via Getty Images)
'Terribly wrong': Dutch PM resigns over 6-year welfare scandal. Source: Getty

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his entire Cabinet have resigned, after a political scandal that saw around 26,000 families wrongly accused of fraud.

In a speech on national television, Rutte said he had informed King Willem-Alexander that he had decided to resign, but would stay on in a caretaker capacity until March elections.

It comes as senior politicians in the Netherlands face a number of court cases and accusations of criminal negligence for their role in the childcare benefits scandal that saw thousands of parents be forced to repay every cent they had ever received in benefits from the government.

“We are of one mind that if the whole system has failed, we all must take responsibility, and that has led to the conclusion that I have just offered the king, the resignation of the entire Cabinet,” Rutte said.

In his official statement, Rutte said “mistakes were made at all levels that resulted in thousands of parents suffering a great injustice”.

“The rule of law should protect people from an all-powerful government and, in this instance, something went terribly wrong in that regard.”

This marks the end to Rutte’s decade in office, though his party is still expected to win the March election.

If he can form a new coalition, he could again become prime minister.

What was the child welfare scandal?

Between 2013 and 2019, around 26,000 parents in the Netherlands became victims of fraud suspicions around their childcare allowance, with parents of dual nationality facing increased scrutiny, according to Dutch News.

The issue became public in 2018, and in 2019, a parliamentary investigative committee looked into the matter, confirming that parents were subjected to an ‘unparalleled wrong’.

Now, around 10,000 families will receive at least €30,000 (AU$47,106) each in compensation, from a fund of €500 million.

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