BM83: The exclusion of students from the Dutch energy subsidy
Last year in December 2021, the Dutch government announced all lower-income households would receive compensation for the significant increase in energy prices. Single households with a maximum income of € 1.310,05 a month and households consisting of more than one person with a shared maximum income of € 1.871,50 have the right to this compensation in the form of a one-time energy subsidy of €1300. Citizens can request this subsidy through their municipality, which has received money from the government to realize these grants. Students, however, are by default not eligible for the compensation and are being rejected when filling in the subsidy application form. They have been facing increased energy prices and inflation too, and their financial position has worsened, which is why the LSVb calls for action.
Even though the government has not stated that students cannot receive the subsidy, they have strongly advised municipalities to exclude students. They are currently not financing municipalities for any subsidies granted to students. As a result, most municipalities either reject students by default when they are trying to fill in the application form or reject students after their application has been submitted and processed.
Some municipalities in the regions Zwolle, Tilburg and Den Bosch are providing energy subsidies to students, albeit the negative advice of the Dutch Parliament and the fact that they are not being financed by the government. However, the possibility for students to receive the energy subsidies should not only be restricted to these few regions, but also to avoid inequality amongst students who live in different regions, and even lawyers have stated that the exclusion of students is unlawful and will not be upheld in a court of law. Excluding a group is only legally supported if the argumentation behind this decision is based on justified grounds. The government has repeatedly advised against energy subsidies for students because the living situation of this group “varies greatly”. Lawyers have stated that this is not an argument based on justified grounds, making the advice and decisions of the government regarding the energy subsidy unlawful. After a student in Nijmegen decided to bring this case to court and won the lawsuit, students in Nijmegen can now also receive the energy subsidy. The LSVb is trying to set up more lawsuits in different regions, but a big obstacle remains: some cities are willing to give students the subsidy but do not have sufficient resources.
ESU stands for the right of students to receive sufficient public financial support, affordable student housing, and equal chances and opportunities. Therefore, ESU demands that:
- The Dutch government withdraws its negative advice towards municipalities to exclude students from receiving the energy subsidy
- The Dutch government provides the necessary funding to municipalities that are needed for them also to give students the energy subsidy.