Students won't get energy allowance, Minister reiterates after renewed call for help
Poverty Minister Carola Schouten sticks to her decision that students cannot claim the 1,300 euros energy allowance intended to help low-income households with their increased energy bills. She fears allowing students will result in many getting the allowance while they don’t need it. On Thursday, student cities called on her to help students with the energy costs, and dozens of students protested in Groningen because they find it unfair that they’ve been excluded from the allowance.
If every student in a student house with twelve residents receives the 1,300 euros energy allowance, they will get much more than they need to pay their gas and electricity bill, Schouten said. The scheme is intended to help people with a low income with their high energy bills. And only paying the students who do have their own energy bill is not feasible, according to the Minister. She does not have the personal data to determine who is eligible for support and who is not.
Schouten asked the Education Executive Agency (DUO) several times whether it could distribute the energy allowance among students. The agency said it didn’t have the necessary data and that it is already at capacity with reintroducing the basic grant. According to Schouten, the only remaining options are to either pay all students who don’t live with their parents the 1,300 euros energy allowance or none. The former would cost the State 200 million euros, which she finds too expensive.
“We fundamentally disagree on this point,” said DENK parliamentarian Stephan van Baarle. He pointed out that many people who can manage financially benefit from the recent purchasing power measures taken due to the high inflation and energy prices. The MP does not understand why this is an objection for students. “On those tens of billions, 200 million suddenly becomes a problem.” Coalition parties CDA and D66 do not support Van Baarle’s point but did ask Schouten to look at alternative solutions.
The Cabinet previously allocated 35 million euros for individual students facing financial difficulties because they pay their own energy bills. It is up to municipalities to divide this amount. On Thursday, aldermen of thirteen student cities said they don’t have the capacity or necessary data to figure out which students are eligible for support and asked Schouten and Education Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf to arrange this via DUO, which is too busy, according to Schouten.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times