Municipalities have been advised not to give students an energy allowance of 800 euros. But legal experts expect that excluding students is unlawful and will not stand up in court.
In view of rising energy prices, the Cabinet decided in March to provide financial support to people on low incomes. The legal amendment this requires still has to be approved by the Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament, but the allowance can already be applied for.
To the great surprise of the student union LSVb, the cabinet advised the municipalities not to give the energy allowance to students. ‘The housing situation of students is very diverse,’ was the cabinet’s explanation for this advice. ‘Given this diversity, individual special assistance is a more appropriate instrument for this target group than the special assistance allocated by category.’
But legal experts think that the advice is unlawful, reports the TV news programme Nieuwsuur. Legal expert Willy Heesen states that students cannot simply be excluded from the allowance ‘as a group’. The fact that their living situation is ‘very diverse, in terms of energy costs and bills as well’ is not a good argument, according to him and other legal experts. They predict that students who sue their municipality will have their cases upheld in court.
No individual assistance
What is more, it is not clear whether students will be able to apply for individual special assistance from their municipality. LSVb president Ama Boahene was told by municipalities in cities such as Utrecht, Amsterdam and The Hague that students are not eligible for such assistance. ‘Some of them would like to give it, but say they don’t have the means for it.’