Lawyers who assist victims of the allowance affair are unable to do their job properly. This is because the lawyers encounter ‘numerous problems and obstacles’, which puts social assistance under pressure, a handful of lawyers wrote on behalf of about 220 colleagues in a letter to the House of Representatives.
Before lawyers can view their client’s file, there is a waiting period that has now risen to 24 months, the letter says. Parts are not supplied fully or partially censored. To assist clients, lawyers must have full access to the files, they write.
The lawyers also want a team at the Tax and Customs Administration Recovery Organization (UHG) to be set up to answer questions directly. ,,Normally there is a number where we as professionals can go and then you will be helped right away. Now we have to call the regular service line. Those people cannot help the victims themselves,” says initiator of the fire letter, lawyer Khadija Bozia. The people in that desired team must have the authority to view and ‘escalate’ a file within 24 hours, so that action can be taken quickly. “For example, in the event of a threat of eviction of a child,” says Bozia.
The government must also release a budget to call in the assistance of loss adjusters. For the lawyers who assist the victims, it is ‘wet finger work’ to determine the amount of the ‘immaterial damage’, because they are not competent in this. “For example, the level of psychological damage: due to a divorce, discrimination, dismissal, being blacklisted, being harassed by the tax authorities. How do you link a sum of money to that?”, Bozia wonders on behalf of her colleagues. This requires the help of experienced loss adjusters, and money for this has to come from the government, the lawyers write.
The Dutch Bar Association (NOvA) shares the concerns and is working with the lawyers on a proposal for a faster work process. ‘As soon as possible’, the Bar Association wants to present an improvement proposal to outgoing State Secretary Alexandra van Huffelen (Supplies) ‘during a discussion about the bottlenecks encountered by the lawyers’, according to a NOvA spokesperson.
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Room wants clarity
Earlier today it was announced that parties in the House of Representatives want clarity from State Secretary Alexandra van Huffelen about the ‘reassessment’ that has been announced in the handling of the allowance affair. MPs wonder what it will mean for the viscous recovery operation for victims of the scandal.
A large proportion of the aggrieved parents have still not received a final assessment of their compensation. Earlier this year, Van Huffelen announced that he would again review the recovery operation. CDA member Inge van Dijk had expected that there would be more clarity about this ‘reassessment’ after the summer. “The process is going very slowly,” said the Christian Democrat.
GroenLinks MP Bart Snels understands that such a process takes time. But he does want to know when concrete proposals will be made. In addition, Snels wonders whether improvements have not already been made that can already be introduced. VVD member Folkert Idsinga also wants to know ‘when we can expect a plan’ and when acceleration can occur, according to the State Secretary.
The latest progress report on the recovery operation ‘is more of a delay report’, says PvdA member Henk Nijboer. He wants to know what term Van Huffelen still finds acceptable for the settlement of the scandal. He suggests first establishing a ‘lower limit’ and using this to determine which approach is needed to achieve it.
SP MP Mahir Alkaya repeats his party’s plan for a ‘one-day procedure’ to help victims much faster. He asks Van Huffelen whether she is prepared to set up such a procedure, carried out by another organisation. “If she is willing to organize this, the SP will give her the opportunity to do so,” said the socialist. Otherwise, the minister would be better off ‘clear the field’, says Alkaya.
Van Huffelen had to admit earlier that the settlement of the allowance affair would take years at the current pace. It is also not certain whether the recalibration will provide an acceleration. Earlier this year, the Chamber had urged a different course.
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