Onderzoek & Onderwijs

Decentralization in the Netherlands: from blueprints to tailormade services?

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The Netherlands has started a major decentralization exercise. From 2015 onwards municipalities will be given much greater responsibility in the social policy domain. This includes three specific areas the so-called 3D decentralization agenda: Services for person with disabilities (Wmo), youth policy and work & income.

The overall goal is to help citizens find work and stay employed, while also stimulating broad participation from citizens, and to provide active support where required. At the same time, it is expected that municipalities are able to provide services in a more efficiently. 

Municipalities will receive an additional share from the national budget, but they are expected to fulfill a larger set of tasks. Consequently, we observe the emergence of a new playing field, which includes both old and new stakeholders.

In this study we investigate the upcoming decentralization of social policies in The Netherlands.


In order to better understand this new playing field, the Institute of Public Administration at Campus The Hague conducted a study on today’s impact of the upcoming decentralization. This was done in 57 municipalities across the Netherlands, in collaboration with the Association of City Managers (VGS) and the Association for Public Administration (VB). 

The analysis was done by research staff from the Institute and thematic experts from Deloitte Consulting. This study focuses on three issues that are relevant to this context: the national government, other municipalities and service providers.

Relevant issues & recommendations

Based on the findings of the study, we have been able to summarize key recommendations for municipalities in each of the following three areas:

  1. The national government – don’t get discouraged as a municipal decision-maker by
    unclear guidelines on regulations and finances;

  2. Other municipalities – make use of the benefits from inter-municipal cooperation within the three decentralised areas;
  3. Service providers and stakeholders – redefine your relation vis-á-vis existing partners and enrich your network in finding new partners in 2014 and 2015.

Full article

Schalk J., Reijnders M.A.W., Vielvoye R., Kouijzer I. & Jong M. de (2014) Decentralization in the Netherlands: from blueprints to tailor-made services?, The Hague Governance Quarterly 2(1).

Follow this link and download the article for free (Open Access) via Leiden University.

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