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Fewer complaints about home inspections

17 July 2007 - The number of complaints about the controversial home inspections carried out by the welfare agency has dropped since the publication of a critical Ombudsman report. This was found in a study of the impact of Ombudsman recommendations.

The municipality has so far responded to fourteen out of twenty recommendations made by the Ombudsman in 2006. In twelve cases, the recommendations were adopted by the municipality, although there was actual evidence that the recommendation had been acted upon in only four cases.

According to the impact study, where it concerns the home inspections, the relative high acceptance rate can be explained by the authority and expertise of the Ombudsman, and by the fact that recommendations were discussed with the welfare agency prior to their publication.

While welfare agency staff agreed with most of the Ombudsman’s findings, they did feel the media painted a too negative picture of their work. They blame this on the use of the qualification ‘not proper’ to describe the way in which the home inspections were carried out.

The media and the general public understood this to mean ‘improper’. In fact, the Ombudsman would use the term ‘improper’ only in more serious situations.

The Ombudsman started an investigation into the home inspections after complaints about inspectors acting in an intimidating way. The welfare agency has since improved information materials and the training of inspectors.

Social workers said they no longer receive serious complaints about home inspections. Piet van der Lende of the Bijstandsbond, an organisation of social assistance recipients, confirmed that there are now fewer complaints.

He has the impression that home inspections are no longer as high a priority for the welfare agency as they used to be. An explanation might be that the yields in terms of terminated or refused benefits no longer outweigh the costs of the labour-intensive inspections.

Impact study (in Dutch) Illustration: activists carrying out counter-inspections to protest against home inspections.


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