Half of applicants in major cities yet to receive energy benefit
Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht and The Hague have not yet paid half of the people who are entitled receive government money to help pay their energy bills. This comes more than two months after the support measure was announced, according to the NOS.
The cities are supposed to give 800 euros in energy bill support to households that make up to 120 percent of the minimum income, although these numbers vary by location. Low-income households that were already known to the municipalities have received the benefit, but people who have applied themselves have not yet seen the money.
Anne Monpellier of Rotterdam told the NOS that she sought help from an agency to apply for the energy money, because she was afraid to do it herself. "I am very afraid that the municipality will think that I have a lot of money or extra money," she said.
When the cities process applications like Monpellier's, they must check that the applicant has a house and energy contract and does not earn too much. The major cities say they should process most of the remaining applications within the next two months.
There are differences between cities in who is eligible for the benefit. In Utrecht, people making up to 125 percent of the minimum income can apply. In The Hague this is 130 percent and in Rotterdam it is 140 percent. The Hague is also giving 900 euros per household, instead of 800.
The Cabinet set aside an extra 175 million euros in April to go toward the energy bill support. This money was distributed to municipalities via the municipal fund, which municipalities could technically use on other expenses. "However, the minister is counting on municipal councils to ensure that the money ends up in the right place," said a spokesperson for Minister Carola Schouten (Poverty Policy, Participation and Pensions).
More people are applying to receive the energy benefit than with other schemes, in part because it is a large amount of money and easier to get, according to the NOS. This has the potential to give a clearer picture of the people who are living in poverty across the Netherlands.