Millions of household compensated for energy bill increase that didn't affect them: report
About 2 million households will get hundreds of euros in compensation from the government for a rising energy bill, while their energy bills won't increase at all, RTL Nieuws calculated based on data from the Dutch authority for consumers and markets ACM.
An average household in the Netherlands will receive 430 euros in compensation from the state next year for the increased energy bill. The government hopes to preempt financial problems for families. But because of how the higher bill is compensated - with a cut to energy taxes - some 2.1 million households will get compensation without their energy bill increasing. These households have an energy contract that does not need to be renewed next year, so they'll keep their old rate. At an average of 430 euros per household, that amounts to 903 million euros in help for people who don't need it, RTL wrote.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs would also have preferred a more targeted form of compensation, but this was impossible given the time frame, a spokesperson said to the broadcaster. "The intention was a targeted measure that supports the households that need it most. Such a targeted approach is not possible in the short term due to the large differences between households, such as the type of energy contract and energy consumption."
Instead, the Ministry chose a measure that "can be implemented relatively quickly and have an immediate effect on the energy bill," the spokesperson said. According to RTL, the Ministry did not answer its questions about whether it regrets giving 900 million euros to unaffected households.
A recent study by TNO showed that about 142,000 Dutch families have to lower their thermostats or take shorter showers to afford their energy bills. According to RTL, the 900 million in compensation going to unaffected households could instead be used to give each of these 142,000 families 6,000 euros to insulate their home, for example.
GroenLinks MP Tom van der Lee thinks that a more targeted approach is possible. "I'm happy that 3 billion euros are being allocated [for compensating the higher energy bill], but I'm really sorry that it's not being used more equitably and effectively, especially reaching the people who are now living in energy poverty," he said to RTL. "They suffer the most from the increased gas price. And they can be compensated much better. For example, by granting the 13th month for people on welfare and people with a state pension or a small supplementary pension, because they mainly live in energy poverty. They have to be compensated, and then more than 400 euros is needed."