At the end of April, the LSVb opened the Energy Poverty Hotline, which students could contact to tell their stories. Of the 150 students who have so far called the hotline, most are paying an additional 50 to 80 euros a month for their energy, the LSVb estimates. At the same time, the Rotterdam student union STUUR also set up a hotline. Eighty students have now reported that they are paying higher prices. 32 students said that they were having problems paying the bill.
Student Union opens hotline for Rotterdam students struggling with energy bills
With energy bills rising and the lack of compensation for students, STUUR Rotterdam set…
Over twice as much
Take a student at Erasmus University who rents a room for 625 euros a month and used to pay another 125 euros in service costs. That has now risen to 275 euros. “I’m already looking for another room because I simply don’t have any money left for textbooks, clothing and food.” The student also says that he now needs to eat with his parents up to four times a week, although it takes him two hours to get there from Rotterdam.
At STUUR, eighty students have now responded to an Instagram call. Chair of STUUR Nathaniel Germain sees a distinction in the reports between tenants of private persons and those of corporations. “Students who don’t rent from a corporation see the new energy prices directly calculated in their rent. Sometimes the increase isn’t even announced in advance. And that adds up, because in one swoop it can be more than a hundred euros a month. The first thing students cut back on are their groceries, which makes them eat less varied and healthy.
Unlike students, people on minimum wages do receive energy compensation. This discrepancy can leave students feeling disgruntled. Like a Fontys student who lives in an independent apartment but shares his energy bill with the residents of other apartments in the same building. “They receive the 800 euro energy compensation for households on a low income, but I don’t, the only reason being that I’m still a student.”
No social security either
The only option is to apply for individual special assistance from their municipality, says LSVb president Ama Boahene. “But municipalities like Utrecht, Amsterdam, The Hague – and there are probably others – have already said that students won’t get that assistance. Some are willing but told us that they don’t have the resources.” According to Germain, this is also an obstacle in Rotterdam.
Two weeks ago, Minister Carola Schouten, who is responsible for Poverty policy, wrote to the House of Representatives saying that municipalities can always allocate individual special assistance to students in dire circumstances. But she also admitted that they are often excluded from the local anti-poverty policy. Next Tuesday, she will be presented with the reports collected by the LSVb.
Although Germain intends to discuss these reports with the municipality of Rotterdam as soon as possible, he is really hoping for a national approach. “The LSVb report has highlighted the urgency and if a national solution can be found, that’s also better. If this problem were only to be tackled within the municipality of Rotterdam, students living outside Rotterdam who we also represent would be left out.”