After the memo – a ‘handbook’
That the Palmen memo and the proposal for compensation were indeed considered important internally, appears on Thursday 6 June. Then a reconstruction of the ‘handbook’ appears, which summarizes the sequel to the Palmen memo. It is just after 12 noon when Uijlenbroek and Cleyndert receive the ‘Factsheet – guide to the completion of CAF-11 cases by Allowances in 2017’ via email. Based on the conversation with the then deputy director of Benefits the day before, it is concluded that the lawyer ‘refused’ the ‘proposal’ of Benefits.
Despite Palmen’s conclusion that there should be compensation, Toeslagen states that ‘that road is impassable’, according to the reconstruction. “The lawyer asked for compensation,” the fact sheet states, and “Surcharges indicated that there was no legal scope for this.”
An extensive letter from the lawyer from 2017 is enclosed with the fact sheet, in which she argues why there is damage as a result of the act of Allowances, and that compensation must therefore be part of the solution. ‘Please give your approval before I share it with the whole group’, writes the official who sends it to Jaap Uijlenbroek. Three quarters of an hour later it is indeed sent to the top officials. The lawyer’s letter is not included.
At that time, the Tax and Customs Administration is considering granting the right to an allowance for 2014 as a form of compensation. And possibly an interest payment. The Implementation Policy employee already warns: “The current solution is more proactive than that of 2017, because we do not ask anyone to submit evidence. The current solution is not so much more generous, since the requested compensation then and also now has not been forthcoming.”
Relevant info for ‘the stas’
At a quarter past four something crazy happens. Uijlenbroek e-mails the ‘handbook’ again, this time only to Leijten. Apparently, the SG has again asked for clarification for this, because, the DG writes: “Attached concerning factsheet.” Again without including the lawyer’s response. Leijten immediately forwards the e-mail to her deputy, Han van Gelder – who immediately sees the essence: “So in April 2017 we had the idea that parents could possibly be in the right, what have we done with it since then?” back to Leyten. Van Gelder suggests recording this more clearly in the fact sheet, or at least in a ‘Q&A’ for the State Secretary – information he can fall back on in a lively parliamentary debate.
Late that evening, Leijten puts it much more sharply in an email to Uijlenbroek. “Where does this information come from? And why only now? This leads to a picture of worrying information provision for me. What is your picture; do we really have all the relevant information on the table? We must do everything we can to avoid being surprised again with new facts after [het] starting from the letter [van de staatssecretaris]Leijten refers to the letter to parliament that the group of civil servants has been considering for days. “Do I understand correctly that allowances already had the impression in 2017 that parents might be put in the right? And what happened to that insight afterwards?”
Leijten gives Uijlenbroek a direct assignment to thoroughly investigate the state of affairs surrounding the ‘guideline’. The text of her e-mail shows that she is downright worried, and that there is therefore no solution: “With a view to the future: if two years ago people did not accept this offer, why would they do it now?” Gerard Blankestijn, the then director of Benefits, will later tell the POK that no one has called him.
Leijten doesn’t just e-mail Jaap Uijlenbroek. The trust is completely gone, says one person involved. So she forwards her email to Uijlenbroek to crisis manager Jasper Wesseling, and her deputy Han van Gelder. “For your information, because I will not be there tomorrow. Also seems to me to be relevant information for the stas (the State Secretary, ed.) This proposal made earlier.” In other words: Menno Snel should know that in 2017 it was already known that Allowances was wrong. And that nothing has been done about it. And that he runs the risk of things going wrong again. The proposal to only grant allowances for 2014 does not solve Snel’s political problem. On the contrary.
The next day, Friday 7 June, Menno Snel wanted to say to the Council of Ministers that he wants to accommodate parents. That he wants to make a concrete commitment. It’s a witch’s cauldron. Factsheets and legal advice tumble over each other – what’s possible, what’s not? The State Attorney has been asked for advice. That advice has not yet been announced during the discussion in the Council of Ministers – it will follow later that day. Core: waiting for Donner. Let them also look at possible compensation. In the Council of Ministers – and in the civil service – there are fears of setting a precedent and that a Pandora’s box will open. There is even arguing about who should pay for it.
On Friday at the end of the day, all documents go into ‘the bag’ of the State Secretary. On Saturday morning, an awake official from the Management Support Directorate reported that, despite Leijten’s warnings, the State Secretary was not informed about the ‘handbook’ from 2017 on Thursday evening. “Unexpectedly, the attached fact sheet was not sent to the stas in the set, although it does contain important information for him. Can we still get this sheet with him today? The text was widely distributed in the building the day before yesterday,” he emails, among others. Jaap Uijlenbroek. Another official insists that the state secretary also see the lawyer’s reaction.
An official then mails the documents again, including the letter from the lawyer. An official delivers the set to Menno Snel’s home. The topic will be added to the agenda for the telco, a telephone conference between the Secretary of State and the crisis team, at the end of the afternoon. The guideline is agenda item 10.