September is normally the month of major changes, with the return of employees to work and student to the classroom, but the first of August tomorrow sees a number of changes.
The school allowance paid to the parents of any student in a Flemish school (also those in Brussels) now becomes automatic. Previously families of pupils and students at all levels from pre-school to graduate level in the professional education sector were obliged to apply for the allowance.
“The school allowance will be granted automatically,” explained Nele Wouters of the family organisation Kind & Gezin to the VRT. “Parents no longer have to apply. The reason is that the government itself will be investigating who has the right to the allowance.”
Families with only children under 18 will be paid in September or October. Families who also have children older than 18 will be paid from later October to December, she said.
As we report elsewhere, employees in the public sector gain the right to take half a day a week off work – or a full day every two weeks – to look after their children.
“We want this measure to allow parents to be more flexible with their parental leave,” explained federal employment minister Wouter Beke. “For example, teachers will be able to ensure they are home on Wednesday mornings.”
Private sector employees have been able to do the same since June, though uptake has been limited: only 52 people took advantage of the right in June.
Home-owners in Flanders whose homes are equipped with a home battery can now apply for a grant. The batteries allow the owners of solar panels to store the electricity created in the daytime to be used at another time.
The batteries cost between 4,000 and 10,000 euros to buy and install. The Flemish government is offering a grant of up to 3,200 euros, with certain conditions.
“Today the cost of a battery is still extremely high compared to the return,” said Flemish energy minister Lydia Peeters. “But with the grant, the purchase of a battery becomes more feasible.”
Finally, bars across the country will from tomorrow have a limit of four gambling machines, with the added new condition that only adults are allowed to play. All new machines will only be able to be unlocked using an identity card. The gaming commission has warned that spot checks will be carried out from tomorrow.