The government has reached an agreement with energy providers that will allow a more relaxed payment regime for anyone suffering financially as a result of the Covid crisis, federal energy minister Tinne Van der Straeten (Groen) announced.
The agreement allows anyone suffering financial difficulties as a result of the epidemic – someone on temporary unemployment, for example, who has taken a 30% pay-cut over the last year – to come to an arrangement with their energy provider to ease the terms of payment.
Two possibilities exist: delayed payments, or a change to the monthly advance paid towards the final annual bill.
In the second case, most people pay a fixed amount every month based on one-twelfth of an estimate of the annual consumption. The final balance is calculated at the end of the year, when the consumer pays the balance or obtains a rebate.
The possibility has always existed to adjust the level of the advance payment, but this agreement will allow more flexibility depending on the consumer’s case.
The other option involves a delay in payment, and the details are left to the customer and supplier to negotiate.
The plan is now to review the working of the new charter at the end of the year, to determine whether the measures should be extended into 2022.
“Suppliers usually know their customers and know which people or which companies have had problems,” said a spokesperson for the minister. “We wanted to keep it as accessible as possible and avoid administrative hassle.”