Cities in the Netherlands are urgently calling on the Cabinet to take more action to combat energy poverty. As energy prices continue to rise, city councils are receiving more and more cues from residents who are unable to pay their bills.
“We are very concerned,” the managers of the 40 largest and medium cities, called the G40, wrote in a letter to Minister Schouten (Poverty Policy). They advocate a more structural approach to the problem. According to the Group of Forty, the current measures taken by the government are insufficient.
“The signals we are receiving from the population are increasingly worrying and foreshadowing impending debt problems,” Alderman Rob de Geest of Deventer wrote in the fiery letter.
He refers to calculations by Statistics Netherlands that the average annual energy bill increases by €1,700. De Geste says that with the €400 tax credit and the one-time off-income compensation of €200, there is still €1,100 left. “Low-income residents cannot absorb this increase.”
“Need to act now”
According to the G40, it is important to act now to prevent citizens from ending up in debt counselling. As a result of the war in Ukraine, gasoline pump prices rose to record levels. Gas prices also rose sharply.
The message says that incentivizing energy-saving measures does not offer a short-term solution. Municipalities also state that energy compensation via social assistance is not feasible. “In addition, it is already taking a long time to regulate energy compensation for low-income people, while our residents need this compensation now.”
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