Last year, a wide range of measures were announced to assist households facing skyrocketing energy bills. In recent days, millions of households benefitted from one such measure, but others received nothing, even though they meet the criteria.
The "basic energy package" was given the green light in the autumn of last year and is divided into two phases (the second phase is discussed further down).
In the first phase – which covers the months of November and December – customers were promised €61 per month if they had an electricity contract and €135 per month for the gas contract, equating to a total of €196 per month.
The way in which the financial support is given can differ, as the energy suppliers — which pay the sum to customers — can choose how to do so: some pay the lump sum at once, others deduct the premium from your advance or settlement invoice. If the money is transferred into your account, the payment description must always mention "federal basic package."
Who is eligible?
In most cases, these sums were automatically paid out in recent days to households on a variable energy contract or a fixed contract dating from after 30 September 2022. Importantly, households that receive the social tariff are not eligible for this measure, while people on higher incomes did get the premium but will have to pay it back in taxes.
"We set this date as the threshold because this marked the moment when the energy crisis really started impacting the cost of contracts. The prices before that were still reasonably interesting, but those after that were much more costly," Lien Meurisse, the FPS Economy's spokesperson, told the Brussels Times.She noted that Wednesday 18 January was the final day on which this payment could be received. "If you haven't seen anything appear by now, you can assume the premium won't arrive." People who believe they were eligible and have not yet received the package can manually request it from the FPS Economy from today (Monday 23 January) until 30 April 2023.
Why did I not automatically receive the premium?
When the measure was first announced, the government stressed the importance of customer details matching the information that the supplier had in the National Register, in order for the payment to be made automatically. Despite the warning, many households have not received the payment for this very reason.
"We receive a list from energy suppliers including all the contracts that are entitled to the package, and we ourselves also check that all people who receive a social rate are excluded. We then match the contracts with the names in the national register," Meurisse said. Some 4.7 million gas and electricity contracts were linked to households as a result of this process, however, this is also where most problems occur.
She explained that if the contract is registered with a name that differs from the name recorded in the national register, there will be problems. "For example, if your official name is Martine and your contract is under the name Tine, then there is no match on our side, and the payment cannot be made."
In other cases, a recent move, the death of a partner (if the contract is on both names) or living in a building with a common gas heating system was the reason behind the payment not being made automatically.
From Monday, a request can be made to receive the payment. Meurisse recommended completing this application online, as this is the fastest way to receive the premium. "It is also possible to print a form, which upon completion can be sent via email or by post, but these applications will be slower as it requires more manual processing."
The second phase of the basic energy package will cover the months of January, February and March and the premium will be based on people's contracts as of 31 December 2022. Exactly the same conditions apply, but as it covers three months, the premium will equate to €183 for electricity and €405 for gas, which suppliers have to pay out before mid-April.
It is possible people may once again have to apply for the premium manually, for the reasons stated above, or if they renewed their contract at the end of the year. If people started receiving the social tariff between September and the end of the year, they can't receive the package. The second basic package can be manually applied for from 23 April.
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Besides the basic energy package, there are a few more measures for which you may be eligible, such as the €300 heating oil voucher (originally €225) for any household that received heating oil in bulk for heating their main residence between 15 November 2021 and 31 March 2023, the social rate for energy, which was extended multiple times, and the premium of €250 for using pellets to heat your home.