Car inspections and cheaper renovations: What's new in Belgium on 1 August?

Car inspections and cheaper renovations: What's new in Belgium on 1 August?
Credit: Belga

A new month means changes in Belgium. From Covid-19 related measures that will be changed to reduced interest rates for loans to renovate a property in Brussels, here's what will change from Monday 1 August.

Pandemic era rules lifted

From Monday, two systems put in place as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and other remote measures that followed the crisis will be adjusted. Firstly, a new framework will be established for fees and reimbursement for remote medical consultations.

At the height of the pandemic, the first tele-consultation codes were created to assist vulnerable patients and to protect doctors when dealing with Covid-19 patients.

Now, these codes will disappear and be replaced by other codes for telephone and video consultations, which will see the patient having to contribute to the costs of the consultation. This will amount to €4 for a video consultation and €2 for a telephone consultation (in both cases, a patient who receives more reimbursement will pay €1).

However, the cost of these consultations will only be reimbursed under the following conditions: the consultation must be with a doctor that the patient was already consulting, with a specialist to whom another doctor has referred him or her, or with a GP on call; the patient must request the consultation and the doctor must agree to it; the platform used for a video interview must be secure and comply with good practice in this area.

It is no longer mandatory to make an appointment for a car inspection. Credit: Belga

The obligation to make an appointment ahead of a car inspection will also be lifted. All inspection centres are now obliged to open their doors to everyone without an appointment for at least one day a week, as was announced in June. People can still make an appointment if they want.

Cheaper loans for housing renovation

From 1 August, homeowners and tenants in the Brussels-Capital Region will be able to benefit from a new low-cost loan for home renovation. The loan, called "Ecoreno," covers the financing of a variety of works, from traditional renovation over security to building insulation and the improvement of energy performance.

Depending on their income, the interest rate for owner-occupiers and tenants will be 0 to 1%, while from January, owner-occupiers can also apply to the Housing Fund. They will pay an interest rate of 1 to 2%.

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The loan will be granted on the condition that the household does not exceed a maximum income. For a single person or a single-parent family, this ceiling will be from €61,049 to €81,049, depending on the number of dependents (0 to 4). For other households, the ceiling will be between €77,699 and €97,699, again depending on the size of the household.

Speech therapy costs more

From Monday, speech therapists who opted out of the last logopedists' agreement, R/22, setting the official tariffs for their services, will be able to charge surcharges to their patients.

In mid-July, almost 60% of speech therapists opted out of the agreement, which was approved with indexed tariffs at the end of May. Previously set at €28.33 per session of at least 30 minutes, the rates have been increased to €29.28, based on indexation only under the new agreement, with patients covering €5.50 of the cost.

However, the speech therapists' associations demanded an increase in the sector to €33.40 per basic consultation and refused to sign the agreement, meaning speech therapists who are not covered by the agreement are free to set their own rates and can charge a supplement to the patient, expected to be another €4 to be covered by the patient.

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