Ombudsman warns government of complaints

20th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

20 March 2007, AMSTERDAM – Public dissatisfaction with the government’s officious attitude has resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of complaints received by the National Ombudsman, who received almost a quarter more angry letters and e-mails last year.

20 March 2007

AMSTERDAM – Public dissatisfaction with the government’s officious attitude has resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of complaints received by the National Ombudsman, who received almost a quarter more angry letters and e-mails last year.

“Citizens are in danger of getting ground up in the mill that is the complicated government apparatus,” ombudsman Alex Brenninkmeijer warned on Tuesday at the presentation of his annual report.

“If the government just responds by saying “rules are rules,” it is doing only half its job. You also have to treat people properly and the government is not managing to do that.”

As a painful example of the bureaucracy, Brenninkmeijer cited the case of a woman who had suffered a miscarriage, but continued to receive letters about her pregnancy from the UWV benefits agency. The problem was that there was no “box” for miscarriage in the UWV system, the Ombudsman reported.

Brenninkmeijer said this illustrates the problem with the government. Officials mean well, but they are trapped in systems which force them to lose their authenticity as people.

This problem is aggravated by the pressure from politics to introduce new policy every four years. Study shows that 85 percent of complaints about poor treatment are not due to officials but rather to government systems.

Brenninkmeijer ascribed the unprecedented rise in the number of complaints to the major changes to the system, including the changeover from rent subsidies to rent allowances and the introduction of the new healthcare system. Most of the complaints were about the tax authority, 3323 compared to 1330 in 2005. The UWV benefits agency came in second with more than 2000 complaints.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2007]

Subject: Dutch news

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