Emergency fund to help Dutch low-income households with energy bills
Low-income households will receive help to pay off part of their increased energy bills, as a special temporary emergency fund that was agreed on last month is set to come into effect.
Like in most European countries, Dutch households have been hit hard by the energy and cost of living crisis. Energy poverty now affects about 600,000 households in the country, an increase of about 90,000 from 2020, research from the Dutch research organisation TNO shows.
“The high energy price affects people with lower incomes the most. The Emergency Fund was created precisely to alleviate concerns somewhat among vulnerable households. I am happy to commit to that,” said Lodewijk Asscher, member of the Dutch Labour Party and commissary for the emergency fund.
The new measure will help “vulnerable households” – singles and cohabitants with a respective gross income of up to €2,980 and €3,794 – pay part of their energy bills dating from October 2022 to March 2023.
In practice, the fund will cover energy costs exceeding a certain percentage of the household’s gross income. If it tops out at 160% of the social minimum, the fund will cover energy costs that exceed 10% of the household’s income. If the gross income amounts to 160-200% of the social minimum, the fund will cover costs in excess of 13%.
The fund is the latest in a series of initiatives aimed at easing the fallout from rising energy prices that particularly affect Dutch households after a consortium of several energy companies and non-profit organisations developed an action plan in March of last year. The consortium and the Dutch government have so far each contributed €24.5 million to the fund, bringing the total investment to €49 million.
However, it remains unclear whether the fund will be enough to meet the needs of Dutch households.
“Practice should tell if it is enough,” a spokesperson for the fund told NOS. “If applications come in very fast, we will try to arrange additional funding.”
(Benedikt Stöckl | EURACTIV.com)