Last year, low-income households received an energy allowance of 1,300 euros from their municipality. However, the government recommended that students be excluded from this scheme. Utrecht followed this recommendation.
The student lives in an independent studio, has a low income and pays his own energy bills. He meets the conditions for the energy allowance. The municipality should not discriminate against him because he is a student, the judge ruled.
The municipality raised all sorts of objections. They claimed that the living situation of students is often different from that of households that fall under the minimum income policy. In addition, they felt that students would be relatively less affected by the high energy prices. The court did not find these arguments well-founded.
And the ‘individual special assistance’ that students can call upon? The court did not consider this a good alternative. After all, the conditions for this assistance are more stringent than the conditions for the one-off energy allowance.
Students often win
Although the municipality of Utrecht can appeal against today’s ruling, the question is whether it makes sense to do so. Students have already won lawsuits against unwilling municipalities. The first was in Nijmegen, and more cases then followed. Last February, for example, a judge ruled against the municipality of Amsterdam.
The municipality of Rotterdam also excludes students from the energy allowance. Some Rotterdam students are appealing against this. According to the alderman, it is possible that a Rotterdam student may also win the case.
Despite fierce criticism from the opposition, the government continues to insist that students should not be eligible for the energy allowance. The 2023 energy allowance should not also be granted to students; the Council of State denounced this direction taken by the government.
However, some municipalities do allow students to qualify for the energy allowance.