State Secretary Van Huffelen (D66) offers victims of the benefits affair a “clean slate”. That means: no more debts. With this clean table and 30,000 euros to compensate for the misery caused by the government, a new life can begin. However, it is still far from certain that the victims can really start over with the full amount of compensation as start-up capital.
In distributing what someone can still repay, the tax and customs administration, as well as other government services such as the UWV, always have priority. They take their share first, with other creditors sharing the rest. Many of the victims of the benefits affair had to go into debt to stay afloat while tax authorities received fines and refunds.
Now that the government is withdrawing as a creditor, the other parties come into play. State Secretary Van Huffelen calls on them to also reduce the debt. If a believer ignores this subpoena and continues to collect it, that believer can have the victim’s bank account confiscated. A bailiff is required by law to carry out this seizure. It is currently not possible to exclude the compensation amount of 30,000 euros from such a bank garnishment.
Some distance away
Debt counselors have several options to enforce a repayment system in court, keep creditors in check and prevent seizure. A majority of the creditors must agree to such an agreement. The government is no longer a party to the negotiations that debt counselors are conducting to reach such an agreement. Because that crossed out all claims. The field is open to private creditors.
The main creditors include personal loan providers, telecommunications companies, health insurance companies, energy companies, and housing companies. Collection agencies also play a role. They act on behalf of the creditor or have become creditors themselves after buying up debt.
Neither of these parties says a resounding yes to the question of whether, like the government, they simply want to cancel the debt outstanding with the victims. “We understand this, but we still have to discuss it,” say organizations such as NVB (banks), Aedes (housing companies), Zorgverzekeraars Nederland and NVI (debt collection agencies). KPN and T-Mobile didn’t answer questions until this afternoon. VodafoneZiggo announced that it has not yet been able to respond to the content. Bol.com and Wehkamp are also still dealing with open questions.
Difficult to solve
“The problem is difficult to solve properly,” says André Moerman from huurinfo.nl. “After the national debt is reduced, the private debts and informal debts that were concluded with friends and family, for example, remain. They could then enter a process of restructuring.” In such a process, creditors are asked: Do you want to cancel all or part of the debt? “Big parties like housing associations and health insurers may have the reserves to absorb this. But it’s actually very strange to ask small parties like private landlords. Because you’re making these creditors victims of the benefit affair.”