Municipalities face a tough decentralization task, and they are unsure if they can handle it

Municipalities are unsure if they are adequately funded for the largest decentralization in recent history: the decentralization of the care for the handicapped, the care for the elderly, the care for the youth and facilities for the unemployed. Furthermore, the decentralization hits the weakest municipalities the hardest, shows research by de Volkskrant.

The challenge differs per municipality. CLICK TO ENLARGE
The challenge differs per municipality. CLICK TO ENLARGE

The poorest municipalities already have to deal with an excessive demand for care. Furthermore, this demand will rise quicker then in other municipalities because most of these municipalities are ‘greyed’ on a much higher level then average: a lot of the inhabitants are pensioners. The municipalities fear they will be confronted with large problems since they are, in their eyes, not adequately compensated for the demand for care.


Furthermore, a survey conducted amongst 161 of the 403 municipalities in the Netherlands, shows that more than half of the municipalities are not sure they can still help all children in youthcare with the money that the government has promised. One fifth of the municipalities bluntly state that they are sure they will not be able to provide all children with the care needed.


The situation for the eldery care and the handicapped is also alarming. Forty percent of the municipalities say that they will not be able to provide the care for the eldery and physically challenged with the budget that the government has promised. Many municipalities are also still unsure how they will deal with the cuts while still providing with the same care. The decentralization and corresponding cuts will take effect Januari first 2015.


De Volkskrant hast looked into the number of inhabitants that make use of services that are to be decentralized, the financial position of the governments and the relative number of pensioners in the municipalities.


The municipalities that are confronted with the highest accumulation of problems – many new tasks, an aged population and a bad financial position – are mostly located on the edges of the Netherlands: the north and east of the Netherlands and the far south. The economic powerhouse of the Netherlands, de Randstad, runs relatively little risk due to a good financial position and a younger population.


A statistical analysis shows that the amount of people that will make use of decentralized care and the financial state of the municipality correlate strongly. The same goes for the percentage of pensioners in a municipality. There are about fifty municipalities that are financially very weak and will have to deal with a relative high level of decentralization. The decentralizations will be heavier in future years when the people age. For abour thirty municipalities this will become a large problem: they are already very aged and deal with a high level of decentralization.


According to the plans of the national government municipalities will have three new and very large tasks. municipalities will have to provide with the care for elderly in need. Moreover, municipalities will have to provide for ‘the bottom of the labor market’ by taking care of welfare, subsidized workplaces and arrangements for youthcare. The government is dead set on making these decentralizations happen, since they are already budgetted in. Many municipalities fear the results.


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