The National Office for Employment (known as “ONEM”) last year demanded repayment of €87.5 million in unemployment benefit paid to recipients who, in fact, had no right to it. This is reported in Thursday’s editions of Het Laatste Nieuws and De Morgen. These benefits, although wrongly paid, are not necessarily connected to fraud.
The benefits were paid by ONEM which subsequently realised that the recipient in each case had no right to the money. The Employment Minister, Kris Peeters (CD&V), explained, “One reason that an individual may have to reimburse their unemployment benefit is due to receiving a sickness benefit with retroactive effect.”
He went on, “It may also be that it is clear from the individual’s income tax return that their income from an additional self-employment activity is too high for them to be eligible for receipt of unemployment benefit.” Mr Peeters continued, “Sometimes, this is a simple error. It can, of course, be a fraud which is then penalised.” ONEM does not hold statistics of the number of cases detected each year.