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    Belgium’s fight against household fraud sees lackluster results

    A social inspector verifies whether a person lives at the indicated address based on the consumption of water, gas and electricity. Credit: Sean and Lauren/Flickr.

    According to revealed budgetary figures, the fight against household fraud has only brought in a few million euros — far less than the predicted €100 million — Het Nieuwsblad, De Standaard and Het Belang van Limburg reported on Thursday. 

    The plan was originally approved by former Secretary of State who was in charge of the fight against social fraud (Open VLD, Flemish Liberal Democrats).

    Based on the consumption of water, gas and electricity, a social inspection verifies whether a person really lives at the indicated address. Providing a false address or falsely declaring to live alone can guarantee higher unemployment and health benefits. 

    The government of former Prime Minister, Charles Michel, seems to have overestimated the measurement report. For 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019, inquiries on household fraud have only recovered €47.6 million benefits that were unfairly received. In addition, only 38 cases of fraud have been investigated for a total of about €136,000. 

    Minister Philippe De Backer (Open VLD) denied that the cost of the system is higher than the receipts. He did recognise that €624,000 are yet to be recovered, and still believes that the measure has a preventive effect that can also expose other forms of fraud.

    The Brussels Times