Almost €300 million in unemployment benefits paid in error

Summary

An N-VA MP severely criticised Belgium’s Federal Employment Service RVA, as the service admitted to paying out €291 too much in benefits last year

“Administrative complexity”

Federal Employment Service RVA is trying to claim back €291 million in unemployment benefits paid in error last year. RVA’s annual report reveals that people are sometimes paid unemployment benefit when they are also receiving sick benefits because of a long-term illness.

RVA is responsible for setting the level of sickness benefits, but payments are made by unions or the Hulpkas voor Werklozen. Federal MP Zuhal Demir (N-VA) said the system is to blame for being too complicated. “The bill keeps on rising, and this at a time when every department is having to fight for money,” she said.

Demir (pictured) argued that it would be more efficient to create a single body to carry out checks and pay out benefits. But RVA argued that the amount to be reclaimed amounted to just 1.27% of its total budget and that checks have become stricter in recent years, which explains the discovery of the benefits that had been wrongly paid out.

“But it’s very hard to get the money back due to administrative complexity and because some people are very reluctant to comply,” a spokesperson said.

Demir’s attack on RVA was strongly criticised during a debate in the Flemish parliament yesterday. “She is distorting the figure to make it seem as if the problem is getting worse, when in fact the situation is improving,” said socialist John Crombez.

Photo courtesy Het Nieuwsblad