More and more Belgians are having difficulty paying their energy bills amid soaring prices for gas and electricity, according to figures from FEBEG, the Federation of Belgian Electricity and Gas Companies.
Belgium has introduced a number of measures aimed at curbing the sky-high prices, including a VAT reduction and one-time cheques for households, but the war in Ukraine has pushed prices for energy even higher.
FEBEG has been keeping track of how many customers cannot pay their energy bills since the start of the pandemic in 2020, De Standaard reports.
Between 15 March 2020 and 15 December 2021, the most recent count, Belgian energy suppliers set up 1.06 million payment plans – granting customers either a payment extension or instalment plan – representing a value of €609 million.
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“We see that the number of consumers who can no longer pay their bills is clearly increasing,” said Marc Van den Bosch, director of FEBEG.
“Since December last year, energy prices have continued to rise sharply. Many customers who perhaps still had a fixed contract will have been switched to a variable contract. New figures will not be available until next month, but it is expected that the number of applications for a payment facility will have increased significantly.”