Dutch govt resigns over child subsidies scandal

A scandal over childcare subsidies that has rocked the Netherlands -- which wrongfully drove thousands of families into financial ruin -- has now resulted in the resignation of its government.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced on Friday (January 15) that his administration would step down, accepting responsibility for years of mismanagement by the tax authorities -- much of which was focused on ethnic discrimination.

Rutte said he had handed his resignation to the Netherlands' King Willem-Alexander but the cabinet will remain in place in a caretaker capacity for now, with an election already scheduled for March 17.

A parliamentary inquiry found last month that officials at the tax service had wrongly accused families of fraud over childcare subsidies.

The report said around 10,000 families had been forced to repay tens of thousands of euros, in what it called an "unprecedented injustice."

The tax office said last year that many of the families were targeted based on their ethnic origin or dual nationalities.

Orlando Kadir, an attorney representing around 600 families in a lawsuit against politicians, said people had been targeted "as a result of ethnic profiling''.

Bureaucrats "picked out their foreign-looking names," according to Kadir.

Prime Minister Rutte said:

"It is never acceptable for someone to feel they are being discriminated against based on nationality, race, gender, or sexual orientation,"

"It is absolutely unacceptable in a law-based state."

Video Transcript

- A scandal over childcare subsidies that has rocked the Netherlands, which wrongfully drove thousands of families into financial ruin, has now resulted in the resignation of its government. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced on Friday that his administration would step down, accepting responsibility for years of mismanagement by the tax authorities, much of which was focused on ethnic discrimination. Rutte said he had handed his resignation to the Netherlands King, Willem-Alexander, but the cabinet will remain in place in a caretaker capacity for now, with an election already scheduled for March 17.

A parliamentary inquiry found last month that officials at the tax service had wrongly accused families of fraud over childcare subsidies. The report said around 10,000 families had been forced to repay tens of thousands of euros in what it called an unprecedented injustice. The tax office said last year that many of the families were targeted based on their ethnic origin or dual nationalities.

Orlando Kadir, an attorney representing around 600 families in a lawsuit against politicians, said people had been targeted as a result of ethnic profiling. Bureaucrats picked out their foreign-looking names, according to Kadir. Prime Minister Rutte has said it is never acceptable for someone to feel they are being discriminated against based on nationality, race, gender, or sexual orientation. It is absolutely unacceptable in a law-based state.