Continuously varying need for capacity
The COA must always ensure there are enough places for reception. However, the need for reception capacity changes continuously. This is, among other reasons, because the number of asylum seekers that enters the Netherlands changes all the time and is difficult to predict. In addition, agreements with municipalities or property owners may expire. Sometimes, we also need more reception places because residents stay longer in the reception centre than planned. For example if it takes longer to complete the asylum procedure, or if there is not enough accommodation available in the municipality for status holders.
Capacity decision: opening or closing reception centres?
Twice a year, the COA takes a so-called 'capacity decision'. Should we expand reception centres, open new ones, or close them instead? We do this on the basis of the Multi-Annual Production Forecast (MPP) made by the Ministry of Justice and Security together with the organisations cooperating in the immigration system. This forecast paints a picture of:
- the possible number of asylum seekers entering the Netherlands
- the system process of police, IND, COA, DT&V, the Judiciary and the Council of State
- the outflow of status holders who are allocated a house in a municipality and asylum seekers who have to return to the country of origin
More or less beds: this is how we do it
Together with the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG), we have developed the 'Upscaling and downscaling action perspective'. In it, it is laid down how COA makes more or less places available together with its partners if demand changes. Do we need extra beds? Then we do the following, step by step:
- expanding existing reception centres, reopening reception centres that have been closed recently, or opening new reception centres
- deploying spare capacity at existing centres
- deploying temporary capacity, such as leisure parks
- opening emergency reception, such as event centres
We try to prevent crisis reception in sports halls.
Do we need less beds? Then, conversely, we scale down: first we stop deploying emergency reception, then temporary capacity and spare capacity.
Opening or closing reception centres: always together with the municipality
To open, reopen or close centres, we strongly depend on municipalities. That is why we regularly have meetings with municipalities about the developments in the asylum influx and the occupancy of reception centres. We do this one on one via the provincial coordination consultations.
The COA always opens a reception centre only after the municipality has agreed to it. We draw up an administrative agreement together with the municipality, including agreements about the number of reception places and the period of establishment.
Coordination consultations: national alignment
In the National Immigration and Integration Coordination Consultation (LRT), we cooperate with the central government, the provinces, and the municipalities on joint tasks in the field of asylum, housing of status holders, and integration and participation. One of the achievements of the coordination consultation was the establishment of criteria for the COA to open and close reception centres: an even spread, the interests of the immigration system, flexibility, quality and sustainability, and finances. Because of the scarcity on the labour market, the COA moreover pays attention to labour market options.