Comments on Bill to establish a sub-fund for decentralised social services

In a letter to the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and the House of Representatives of 17 June 2014, the Court of Audit has commented on a Bill to establish a sub-fund within the Municipalities Fund to finance decentralised social services.

The Court had announced the letter when it published its audit of central government’s annual accounts for 2013 on 21 May 2014. The Court notes that the government intends to establish a sub-fund in order to provide a new source of financing for the services it will decentralise to the municipalities. The government has set a condition on the municipalities’ use of the sub-fund to finance decentralised youth care, social support and labour participation services.
In the Court of Audit’s opinion, the condition gives a false sense of assurance about the municipalities’ actual use of the billions of euros that central government will provide every year for the decentralised services as from 2015. In the Court of Audit´s opinion, the condition imposes an additional and unnecessary accountability and audit burden on both the municipalities and central government. Furthermore, it sits uneasily with the underlying principle of decentralisation that municipalities should have freedom of policy and expenditure. The Bill to establish a sub-fund must still be passed by the House of Representatives.

The letter is only in Dutch available.