Translated and adapted from the Groninger Internet Courant
On Monday, January 10th, thousands of Groningen residents stood in a digital queue or outside in the cold to apply for a subsidy of 10,000 euros to repair and strengthen their homes damaged by earthquakes. The application process was unfair, reported Dagblad van het Noorden and RTV Noord: those who were able to register digitally with the Northern Netherlands Association( Samenwerkingsverband Noord-Nederland, SNN) before 9 am had an advantage.
Anyone who tried to log in before 9 am on the day was placed in a digital waiting room. At the turn of the hour, applicants in the waiting room were subsequently placed in the final queue in random order, but they were given priority over anyone who had instead waited for 9 am to log in. People who were not in the initial group had less chance of receiving the subsidy since they found themselves behind thousands of others already in the waiting rooms.
In addition, the software used also caused unfairness; people circulated on social media unique codes which let their users take someone else’s more favorable place in the queue.
SNN director Marjan Dol had previously stated that logging in earlier than 9 o’clock was pointless, as was logging in from multiple devices, but both statements were contradicted by the experience of the applicants. It turns out, people also had more chances to end up in a favorable spot in the queue the more devices they used, because each login resulted in one more placement in the line.
King’s Commissioner René Paas, who is also chairman of SNN, admitted in a debate with the Provincial Council on Wednesday 12th that the people who had been put in a waiting room were given priority in the queue. He said also that people had access to the waiting room for a “limited number of minutes”, but Dagblad van het Noorden reported that several applicants were in the waiting room for hours before the start and some even from Sunday evening.
SNN decided to not answer any questions while an internal investigation is ongoing.