Municipalities end cooperation with the cabinet on youth care, after half a billion cuts in the coalition agreement

Municipalities are angry with the cabinet that wants to cut half a billion euros on youth care. Aldermen suspend consultations with the new state secretary.

Municipalities speak of ‘a false start’ for the new cabinet. Today, during a meeting of the Association of Dutch Municipalities (VNG), they unanimously decided to suspend cooperation with the government on reform of youth care. The municipalities believe that the cutbacks must first be taken off the table.

Not to rhyme

“We see that more and more young people are making use of youth care and the cabinet says that money must be cut. That is incongruous,” says Utrecht alderman Eelco Eerenberg (D66).

Since 2015, municipalities have been responsible for youth care. This was accompanied by cutbacks and over the years it turned out that municipalities spend much more money on youth care than expected. In order to continue to provide good and sufficient care, many municipalities cut back on libraries or community centers.

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One and a half billion

Municipalities felt that the cabinet should make extra money available for youth care. They did not agree on this for years, after which an arbitration committee was set up in 2021.

It concluded that the government must pay more than 1.5 billion euros extra to municipalities. The decision of this committee of wise persons is binding. Municipalities are now angry that the new cabinet is disregarding this agreement.

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‘Fewer children receiving care’

“These are vulnerable children who will be left out in the cold if the government does not keep to the agreements,” says The Hague alderman Kavita Parbhudayal (VVD). “Now that as a new cabinet comes with more budget cuts, that is simply not possible.”

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“Less money for youth care means that we have to choose,” says Eerenberg. “Fewer children receiving care, longer waiting times, more often selling no, saying adamantly that they are not eligible”.

Not going back on appointments

The cabinet believes that it should be examined whether a personal contribution for youth care can be requested. Parbudayal doesn’t think that’s a good idea. “It’s unreal that when children call on youth care, you start talking about who gets the bill.”

“This has not been well thought out, you just shouldn’t do this,” she concludes. “We have to go back to what we have agreed. The government should not keep going back on agreements that have been made, that is destructive for trust and not good for cooperation.”

State Secretary for Youth Care Maarten van Ooijen

State Secretary: more about content, less about money

The new State Secretary for Youth Care, Maarten van Ooijen (ChristenUnie), is aware of the concerns, but is not currently making any commitments for extra money. “The financial challenges are significant, but there are also substantive challenges. We need to talk more about content and less about money.”

But for the time being, nothing is being discussed at all, says alderman Eerenberg from Utrecht. “As municipalities, we have decided that we are suspending cooperation with the new state secretary. First, that half a billion must be taken off the table. We are having all kinds of discussions about improving youth care, but if you cut half a billion, those aren’t good conversations anymore.”

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