The winter months will see up to 400,000 homes in Belgium put at risk of “energy poverty,” as they spend a significant part of their paycheck on the swelling costs of utilities.
New figures released by the federal energy regulation body, CREG, show that electricity prices practised by energy companies have risen by 62% over the past decade, a figure which still sits at 31% if inflation is taken out of the equation.
For natural gas coming into European Union households —mostly from Russia via underground pipelines— that increase is of 2.4%, not factoring in inflation.
Low-income households’ salaries have not kept up with the hikes, meaning that energy bills in up to 400,000 homes in Belgium are soaking up between 15 to 20% of their net paycheck, De Standaard reports.
Single people and single-parent households using electrical heating are the most affected by the swelling prices, CREG spokeswoman, Sophie Lenoble told the outlet, adding that individual or family households with a single-earner who use natural gas for heating see that proportion drop to around 8%.
Nearly 440,000 households in Belgium benefit from social schemes which reduce their electricity bills, and an additional 270,000 benefit from a similar scheme for gas.
The social schemes are accessible to people with severe disabilities, living wages, social housing tenants or some pensioners, but, according to Lenoble, not all low-income homes can benefit from them.
The Brussels Times