Students unjustly excluded from energy allowance: experts
Students can't legally be excluded from the energy allowance. If students object to this in court, there is a good chance that the judge will rule in their favor, legal expert Willy Heesen said to Nieuwsuur. The program approached several other experts who confirmed the standpoint.
The energy allowance is a once-off amount of 800 euros intended to help low-income households cope with the rising energy prices. The legal basis for this allowance is in a legislative amendment to the Participation Act, which parliament and the Senate still need to approve. In an added memo to the bill, the association of Dutch municipalities VNG recommended excluding four groups from the allowance - young people up to the age of 21, homeless people, people living in institutions, and students.
There must be "justified grounds" for excluding a group from an allowance like this one, Heesen pointed out. For young people up to 21, the ground is that they can fall back on their parents, who are legally obliged to contribute to their living costs. Homeless people and people in institutions don't have a home and, therefore, no energy costs. Those grounds are sound and justified, Heesen said.
But that does not apply to students. The VNG advised their exclusion on the ground that their living situation is "very diverse, also in terms of energy costs and bills." And that is not justifiable, Heesen said. "Because students do not live differently from non-students. All forms of housing used by students - with their parents, independently, or in rooms - are also used by non-students."
It may be that individual students don't qualify for the energy allowance because of their living situation. But you can't exclude the entire group because they're students, Heesen said.
Students union LSVb was already concerned by students' exclusion from the allowance, chairman Ama Boahene said to Nieuwsuur. “But if you also hear that it is not allowed legally, that is, of course, more problematic.” Students are also suffering under the rising energy prices, spending up to 80 euros extra per month, she said. “Especially for students who often don’t have a lot of money, that is an enormous amount.”