Dutch PM hints new measures to boost purchasing power could happen this year
The Cabinet has been saying for months that it is simply impossible to improve people's purchasing power this year. That attitude changed slightly on Friday during Prime Minister Mark Rutte's regular weekly press conference. He was asked if he can continue down a road where no new measures are introduced, and he said that it was impossible to stand by and "do nothing this year" when energy prices and the cost of groceries continue to rise.
"But we are not yet saying what we will or will not do. That will come with Prinsjesdag," he said, referring to the date in September when the Cabinet reveals its budget plan for the following year. The day falls on the third Tuesday of the month, which is 20 September.
Rutte seemed to indicate that there will be some financial relief for lower and middle income households on Prinsjesdag. When questioned further about this, he declined to comment, but he did not completely retract his words either. "With Prinsjesdag, we will or won't announce something for '22, and as well our plans for '23."
Many people are at risk of being cut off from electricity or gas service because they can no longer pay their bills. "We want to do everything we can to prevent people from being cut off," Rutte said. "Intensive talks are underway with energy companies about this," he said. Other ministers discussed the same with reporters earlier in the day.
Prices are also rising in many other areas. "I understand that people are concerned," Rutte said, but he was not prepared to reassure the public by divulging anything about possible measures that could alleviate financial distress this year.
He did appeal to people who are in financial difficulties or are at risk of getting into financial difficulties, especially those with lower incomes, to work with their municipality to utilize existing schemes. These include special assistance, but also accessing the energy allowance of 1,300 euros for people with a lower income income.
Not everyone who is entitled to this has applied for it. "The priority now is to reach everyone who is entitled to it."
Reporting by ANP and NL Times