Because of the high energy prices the government wants to give financial assistance to low-income families. The energy allowance was created for that purpose. But in the government’s opinion, it was not necessary for students to be eligible for it.

Last summer, a student in Nijmegen won a court case against his municipality and was able to get the energy allowance. Now the same has happened in Amsterdam. The municipality has to take a new decision about the application by 24-year-old student Melle van der Geest within six weeks.

Principle of equality

The allowance in Amsterdam is 1,000 or 1,800 euros (depending on the recipient’s assets). Amsterdam has followed the national guidelines given to the municipalities by the ministry. But the Court rules that making an exception of students is contrary to the principle of equality.

The situation of students is indeed different from that of other low-income groups, the Court acknowledges; other low-income groups sometimes find themselves in a hopeless situation. But the allowance is for everyone that earns no more than 120 percent of the minimum wage, not just for people in a hopeless situation. So that is not a relevant criterion, in the Court’s opinion.

“To decide whether a comparable situation exists, the actual situation has to be assessed”, according to the judgment, “in other words the housing situation, the amount of the income and whether the person concerned is paying energy costs.”


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The municipality takes the view – in keeping with the government – that many students do not need the energy allowance at all. Consequently, a case of ‘overcompensation’ could easily arise in that group. But the Court does not consider that a strong argument. After all, the municipality can set its own conditions, such as that the student lives alone and pays his/her energy bills.

Whether the student will actually get the money is a matter of conjecture. The municipality has to take a new decision within six weeks. The Court itself is not willing to make the decision, because it is not clear whether the student satisfies the other conditions for the one-off energy allowance.

“Really happy”

The student told Het Parool newspaper that he is “really happy” that the municipality has to reconsider his application. “I will no longer be excluded just because I’m a student, but the application will be considered on the basis of the requirements. My income, for example.”

Even the Council of State recently advised against excluding students from the energy allowance, whereas the Attorney General actually considers the government’s position defensible.

Student unions LSVb and FNV Young & United previously called on students to let them know if they want to take legal action. They say they received around a thousand responses. “We also expect students in other municipalities to file lawsuits”, they say in a press release.

De verwarming blijft bij veel studenten voorlopig nog uit.

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