Belgian government announces new energy support measures

Belgian government announces new energy support measures
Credit: BELGA PHOTO LAURIE DIEFFEMBACQ

The Federal Government announced on Friday a new series of measures to provide financial relief to households struggling under the burden of rapidly rising energy prices. After seven hours of debate in the select ministerial committee, ministers have agreed on measures to help protect the middle class with targeted interventions.

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced a “reduced price energy package” which promises households support of up to €135 for gas and €61 for electricity per month for November and December. Eligibility will be based on income and energy contract conditions.

The government has also increased the value of heating fuel vouchers from €225 to €300. Those who have already received their heating oil subsidy can be reimbursed the difference.

Businesses

Furthermore, the government has laid out a series of measures for businesses and the self-employed. These include allowing companies to defer the payment of social security contributions and tax, introducing a temporary ‘energy’ unemployment support, and a moratorium on bankruptcies.

Businesses will also benefit from a moratorium on excise duties on gas and electricity, applicable to 50,000 megawatt hours for gas and 1,000 MWh for electricity. The government plans to make €1.5 billion available to finance this.

“Alongside the social energy tariffs which we have extended, this second aid package was necessary to help the middle classes and SMEs. They will have access to a basic volume of energy at a regulated tariff," commented Georges Gilkinet, Vice-President of the Ecolo party.

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Since September last year, those who were poor became poorer as a result of skyrocketing energy prices. The cost of living crisis and rapidly rising energy prices has significantly hit Belgium's middle class who are usually more resilient to financial shocks. Many have been turning to CPAS (Belgium's social security provider) seeking help to pay their energy bills.

The new financial support seeks to extend social support to vulnerable sections of Belgium's middle class.

"Alongside the most vulnerable, it is important to direct this aid towards all those who need it but also to encourage companies to make energy-saving investments and to grant them payment facilities,” Gilkinet concluded.


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