Many Belgians unaware of being entitled to social tariff

Many Belgians unaware of being entitled to social tariff
Credit: Markus Spiske / Unsplash

Last week, ministers at the Consultative Committee decided to extend the social tariff until 31 March 2023 in an effort to help people struggling to pay their energy bills. But who can benefit? And by how much?

With energy costs exploding, social rates provide some households with financial assistance. For the three main categories, the social rate will be applied automatically.

"If you receive the social integration income, if you receive a disability allowance from the FPS Social Security, or a Grapa allowance (income guarantee for the elderly), then you are eligible for the social energy tariff", says Juan Carlos Sanchez, policy officer at the Federation of Social Services.

Some steps to take

In view of the present difficulties, the government has gone a step further. Since 1 February 2021, access to the social tariff has been extended to beneficiaries of the increased intervention (BIM).

Here, a distinction must be made between those who already have BIM status and the BIM income group, which concerns people whose income is below a certain threshold."

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Whilst those who already have BIM status should automatically receive the social tariff, BIM income earners must first take steps with their mutual insurance company which then estimates the income and issues a certificate granting access to the social tariff.

People are often unaware of this right and do not make use of it. Juan Carlos Sanchez confirms this: "We lose quite a few people on the income BIM. In Brussels, 28% of households benefit from the financial assistance although 34% could qualify."

A significant gain

The potential savings on a standard energy bill are not negligible. The figures from CREG, the Commission for Electricity and Gas Regulation, speak for themselves.

Based on data for August 2022 for a "standard" consumption profile of 3,500 kWh per year in electricity and 17,000 kWh in natural gas, the annual bill for a household that benefits from the social tariff would be €862 for electricity and €526 for gas – a total of €1,388 (including 6% VAT).

Yet a household that does not benefit from the social tariff (and therefore pays a commercial tariff with variable prices) amounts to €1,791 for electricity and €2,805 for gas – giving a total of €4,596.

The difference is colossal: "The social tariff would enable a household to save €929 per year in electricity and €2,279 in gas – a total of €3,208."

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