Netherlands

The corona crisis is not over for many, aftercare is necessary to prevent social dramas

National Ombudsman Reinier van ZutphenStatue Lex van Lieshout / ANP

Ombudsman Reinier van Zutphen therefore urges the cabinet and the House of Representatives not to proceed to the order of the day now that the pandemic seems to be over, at least for the time being. Aftercare is required to prevent confidence in the government from being damaged again, as happened earlier in the settlement of the allowance affair and the earthquake damage in Groningen and Drenthe. “The government must prevent corona from becoming the next recovery operation that, due to lack of clarity and lack of progress, gives citizens less than more confidence in a good outcome.”

The number of people who have fallen behind as a result of the crisis and ‘can no longer participate in society’ has grown in 2021, the Ombudsman notes. ‘People are at risk of falling into poverty for a long time. And once living in poverty, it is often very difficult to get out of it and becomes vulnerable to other problems, for example in the field of education, work or housing.’

Many people who have been at home for some time with persistent physical complaints are now at risk of being fired. ‘The comparison with the aftermath of Q fever is urgent,’ says Van Zutphen. In a series of reports, the Ombudsman took a hard line on the government action regarding the Q fever that broke out in North Brabant in 2007: from the outset, too little attention was paid to the people who became ill, people were insufficiently and not timely informed about the risks and causes of Q fever, and the outbreak was not fought vigorously.

Years later, too, insufficient attention was paid to the people who suffered from long-term complaints after a Q fever infection, as a result of which they ran into ever greater problems. ‘That could happen again,’ warns Van Zutphen. He also points to the entrepreneurs who have kept their companies afloat, but had to dig deep into their financial reserves. ‘Will the government still be there for them once the urgency of the pandemic has disappeared?’

Forgotten Generation

The Ombudsman asks for special attention for young people who, partly due to corona, are experiencing an accumulation of problems. ‘We are dealing with a generation of young Dutch people who have shown solidarity, but who grew up with educational disadvantages, few opportunities for social development, a high student debt and no chance of owning a house. They must not become a forgotten generation that will continue to struggle with a disproportionate disadvantage for years to come.’

In general, Van Zutphen advises the cabinet not to always see the solution to all problems in ‘customization’. In the settlement of the allowance affair as well as that of the earthquake damage, the pursuit of customization proves to be a recipe for long, grueling procedures in which many people get stuck. ‘Customisation is not a solution for bad policy’, says Van Zutphen. ‘It obscures that the policy was basically not good, and that needs to be addressed.’

The corona crisis is not over for many, aftercare is necessary to prevent social dramas
Source link The corona crisis is not over for many, aftercare is necessary to prevent social dramas

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