In December 2009, (former) recipients of social security benefits had a total outstanding debt of 1.3 billion euro with municipalities, as against 1.1 billion euro in 2002. At the end of December last year, 412 thousand debts were registered. In more than a quarter of these cases, municipal social services were not at all or not properly informed by the recipients.
Social security debt
Nearly six in ten debts the result of unjust payments
Approximately 60 percent of debts are the result of wrongfully received payments. Nearly half are the result of negligence of the applicants, which means that the applicants have deliberately withheld information. Additionally, 30 percent of debts refer to loans provided by municipal authorities. Other types of debts are relatively rare.
Number of debts by type of debt, end of 2009*
Increase in loans
Last year, the number of loans paid to social security recipients was higher than in 2008. The total amount outstanding increased by more than 10 percent from 446 to 493 million euro. People can borrow money from the municipal social service to have their refrigerator, washing machine or television set repaired or replaced by a new one. Social security recipients who want to become self-employed and start up their own business can also qualify for a loan.
Number of debts declining
Although the total social security debt has risen over the period 2002-2009, the number of debts has dropped by more than 100 thousand. The number of debts involving an amount of 2,500 euro or more has grown. At the same time, the number of debts not exceeding 500 euro has declined dramatically.
High debts often due to withholding information
At the end of December 2009, high debts (involving 10,000 euro or more) were the result of deliberately withholding vital information in nearly 45 percent of cases. Altogether, municipalities had over 500 million euro outstanding at the end of December as a result of applicants failing to comply with the obligation to provide complete, accurate and relevant information.
Number of debts by debt amount involved
Miriam de Roos