Due to the high energy costs, families with a low income received a 1,300 euro energy allowance last year, but municipalities were said to have the right to exclude students. However, in various court cases municipalities were sentenced to awarding the allowance to students after all.
For the forthcoming energy allowance, Minister of Poverty Policy Carola Schouten came up with a separate arrangement for students. Those who qualify will receive 400 euros through student financing body DUO.
The Cabinet is awarding this one-off payment to students living on their own who are on a basic student grant and – crucially – a supplementary grant. The reasoning behind this is that these students are less able to rely on their parents if they have a problem paying their energy bill.
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It concerns a gift, the Cabinet says. “This legislative proposal does justice to a number of court rulings on students’ rights to energy allowance and to the Council of State’s recommendation in this area.” The reference date is likely to be in October, so anyone leaving home in November will miss out.
The proposal does not allocate any money to students that will no longer be eligible for a basic student grant and will only be able to take out a loan in the new academic year. “DUO doesn’t know whether or not these students, who are taking longer to complete their studies than prescribed, are living on their own”, the statement reads, “because this information is not relevant for loan eligibility.”
Something may still change in this respect. “In the coming period, the Cabinet will make a final attempt at figuring out how it can provide assistance to students in need of a solution with respect to the increased energy costs.”
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The Dutch Student Union (LSVb) is taken aback by the proposal, chair Elisa Weehuizen says. “We’ve been insisting on a good approach for students for months, but these are nothing more than crumbs to feed the starving. It concerns a much smaller amount than other low-income groups are getting. Once again, students are put at a disadvantage, just because they are registered with an educational institution.”
According to her, a hundred thousand students out of a total of eight hundred thousand would qualify, which she considers too few. The union will continue to launch court cases, she announces. “We offered to help the ministry find a solution, but they didn’t involve us in the talks. So we have no other choice than to turn to the courts for a solution.”