Amsterdam stricter than other municipalities with energy bill assistance
Amsterdam is applying stricter conditions to the energy bill assistance for low-income households than other municipalities. Unlike other municipalities, the Dutch capital also uses a capital limit - anyone with 6,295 euros or more in the bank does not qualify for the allowance, Parool reports.
Earlier this year, the Cabinet released money to low-income households to absorb the blow of the skyrocketing energy prices. The worst-affected families could get 1,300 euros once-off - 800 euros in the spring and 500 euros in July when energy prices remained high.
Amsterdam automatically transferred the first 800 euros to 77,000 locals who received social assistance benefits or another minimum wage. People not registered with the municipality as having a low income had to apply for the allowance themselves. The city received 14,000 applications. A spokesperson could not say how many were rejected.
Unlike other municipalities, Amsterdam also looked at applicants’ capital. If the applicant had more than 6,295 euros in the bank - 12,590 euros for families - they did not qualify for the allowance. Shares, jewelry, and expensive cars also counted, but not an owner-occupied home. According to the municipality, this capital limit also applies to other benefits, like social assistance. And the city council feared that the 120 million euros the Cabinet gave Amsterdam for the allowance would not be enough without the limit.
ANBO, the association for senior citizens, received several complaints from Amsterdam residents who did not receive the allowance because of their savings. ANBO wants Amsterdam to set the capital limit at around 20,000 euros to prevent elderly people who set aside a small amount - for example, for their funeral - from being excluded from assistance. Trade union FNV and the Bijstandbond also received multiple complaints.
The municipality estimates that 85,000 households are entitled to the allowance and recognized that the capital limit could cause distressing situations. Amsterdam is therefore considering not using the capital limit for the second allowance of 500 euros, a spokesperson for alderman Marjolein Moorman (Poverty) said to the newspaper. The second grant from the government will “probably” be enough to pay the allowance to all qualifying households, the spokesperson said.