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Bureaucratic simplification of social assistance

From EPSA - European Public Sector Award

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In 2007, the 4th cabinet under Prime Minister Balkenende committed itself to a real, noticeable reduction of administrative burden to citizens by resolving the ten major bottlenecks experienced by citizens in their contacts with the government, one of the most prominent being the process of applying and accounting for social assistance benefits. At municipal level, this process accounted for roughly 40% of the total administrative burden placed on citizens. Four themes were identified that were crucial in improving the social assistance delivery: Less burden of for proof of eligibility; Speeding up procedures; Legality; Control and accountability.

Emphasis was placed on the ‘noticeability’ of improvements: not only would a reduction of total minutes spent by the public be judged a success, but a marked change in the experience of the individual claimant would also have to be realised. A project to bring about these changes was set up by the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, in cooperation with a large number of municipalities all over the Netherlands. Objectives of the project were manifold: noticeably improving the quality of social assistance services by municipalities, reducing administrative burden for citizens applying for and receiving socials assistance benefits, but also bringing about a change in the culture in which social assistance applications were assessed. This involved moving from a system of suspicion and control, in which every claimant was viewed as potentially fraudulent, to a system of so-called ‘high trust’, were applications are viewed as principally legitimate. One notable specific objective was the abolishment of the monthly entitlement form.

The ministry adopted a ‘seduce and support’ approach, whereby municipalities, which have responsibility for social assistance, were persuaded to implement improvements by showing them the advantages and the progress made in other municipalities. This was done at a number of workshops and conferences, and through widely disseminated brochures detailing best practices throughout the country. Regional Red Tape Ambassadors were deployed to assist municipalities in the implementation. All the while, the project was part of a much wider effort to reduce administrative burden on citizens, professionals and administrations. In terms of measuring results, the main quantitative indicator used was the Standard Cost Model for citizens – a tool which enables the quantification of administrative burden on citizens in both time and monetary costs. Results of the project were substantial on an individual, local and national (aggregate) level. For individual social assistance claimants, administrative burden was reduced by as much as 40% in time and 20% in out-of-pocket expenses. For the total administrative burden placed on citizens in the Netherlands, this translates to a reduction of about 3,500,000 hours. At municipal level, yearly savings of between €100,000 and €1,000,000 million can or have been realised, depending on the size of the municipality and the degree of implementation. More than 60% of municipalities now no longer require the monthly entitlement form. The ministry continues to monitor administrative burden placed on citizens by municipalities, and many municipalities are conducting followup projects to the ones described here.

Award info
Award category: smart public service delivery
Award type: diploma
Award year: 2011
Project type
Sector: Public health and social welfare/affairs
Type of activity:
Keywords: Compliance costs, high trust, efficiency, bureaucratic simplification, administrative burden reduction, public service delivery, social assistance
Short English description: Objectives of the project were manifold: noticeably improving the quality of social assistance services by municipalities, reducing administrative burden for citizens applying for and receiving socials assistance benefits, but also bringing about a change in the culture in which social assistance applications were assessed.
Further information
Organisation: Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations
Other applicants:
Homepage:
Level of government: national level
Size of organisation: >100
Number of people involved: >15
Country: Netherlands
EU membership: EU member
Language code: en
Start date:
End date:


Bureaucratic simplification of social assistance (52.0779637, 4.3204036)
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