High energy bills could push people out of debt relief schemes
Higher energy bills are especially dangerous to people who are paying off debt, according to the NOS. And 95 percent of Dutch people are worried rising energy prices will bring an economic crisis in 2023, according to a survey by Hart van Nederland.
Debt counseling organizations told the NOS that the final bill from energy companies, which accounts for the extra energy used outside of monthly payments, could endanger people who are in debt. This is because people in debt relief schemes must have room in their budget to pay off their debts.
"We hope that people who have been trying to get out of debt for years will not be stranded in the coming months because of their energy bill," said a spokesperson for the NVVK, the industry association for debt counseling. The association hopes the Cabinet will support these people.
It is not yet known how the issue will be solved, said Poverty Reduction Minister Carola Schouten, who is speaking with interested parties. "We have to make sure that people don't drop out of the debt relief scheme, because that could be their help," Schouten said. "We are looking at how we can ensure that people can stay in that scheme."
The NVVK pointed out that municipalities can also help alleviate people's burdens. For example, Tilburg has set up a support fund for people in debt relief programs, in which they can receive help for at least six months. The NVVK spokesperson emphasized it is important to "bridge the period" until Jan. 1, when the Cabinet should provide purchasing power support.
A survey from Hart van Nederland found that energy bills are a source of concern for a majority of Dutch people. Ninety-five percent of people surveyed were concerned about a looming economic crisis and 86 percent were worried about its impact on their own financial situation. "Disgraceful scenes of how high the energy costs are. The Netherlands is no longer the Netherlands," one respondent said.