The government must finally learn to listen

Ombudsman Reinier van Zutphen presents his annual report to the House of Representatives

Noos News

The government has a great tendency to enact new laws and rules when problems arise, while this is often not in the best interests of citizens. They are better served if they are listened to carefully. Therefore, the government must change its behavior, instead of hiding behind new regulations.

It’s the heart of the matter Annual Report For the year 2023 from the National Ombudsman, the Children’s Ombudsman and the Veterans Ombudsman under the title The citizen perspective: a way of doing things. It was presented this afternoon to the House of Representatives.

This voice is not new: the Ombudsman has already made it known several times in the past year, including after an investigation into “recoveries”, which showed that little or no discussion is being held with people who have gotten into trouble because of the procedures. Governmental.

Last year, the Board of Grievances received more than 22,000 complaints and requests for assistance from citizens, children, and veterans. Their conclusion was that the government often acts in a “reckless” way, and they had a strong opinion about this: “The government still does not act adequately on the question: What is the right way to do things? When in many cases the answer is simple.” Sometimes: personal contact and listening to the needs of citizens and children.


Another point of criticism, which is also in line with previous complaints made by the Ombudsman, is that the government is not learning well from previous mistakes. After investigating situations in which citizens were deceived, the Ombudsman concluded that the government was focusing too much on financial oversight and accountability.

The most famous example of this is the issue of childcare allowance: “The process (…) is slow and complicated, and citizens want a clear, simple and quick settlement.”

Ombudsmen believe that the government’s strong tendency to communicate with citizens through official means explains this stubbornness. “It seems that answering according to the system provides the government with a greater degree of certainty than dealing seriously with citizens in search of an appropriate solution.”

Toxic paradox

The government thinks too much about the problems and therefore often inadvertently prevents improved services. Ombudsmen even speak of a “toxic paradox”, as in youth care.

Every attempt to solve problems seems to lead to new problems, while old problems still exist, care has become increasingly expensive and complex, and thus young people still do not receive adequate help.

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