Maastricht is ‘champion’ in awarding energy allowances, but many students are still missing out

Maastricht is ‘champion’ in awarding energy allowances, but many students are still missing out

Compensation of energy costs for fewer than three hundred Maastricht students

28-06-2023 · News

Maastricht is national leader when it comes to compensating students for the risen energy costs, de Volkskrant reports after a recent study. Nevertheless, the strict conditions form a stumbling block here too, as is the case in other university cities: more than half of the more than 600 applicants were turned down.

There was a lot of fuss last year about the energy cost compensation – a one-off subsidy of 1,300 euro for low-income households. The government advised municipalities not to award this subsidy to students. Criticism and even court cases followed, after which many municipalities – including Maastricht – changed their policies in December of last year, partly because the government decided to put aside 35 million to compensate students.

At the same time, the strict regulations have meant that this amount hardly reached the group for which it was meant, de Volkskrant writes. Cities such as Utrecht, Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Wageningen only received a dozen or so applications from students, of which a considerable number was turned down. Only Groningen, with 600 applicants of which 144 were honoured, are anywhere near Maastricht (639).

The reason for the high figures in Maastricht? The city also allows foreign students to be eligible for a subsidy. Inquiries by Observant with the municipality showed that this group was indeed well represented: of the 639 applications, 256 were from internationals; of the 262 subsidies issued, 142 were for this group. These are preliminary figures: students can still submit applications until 1 July. It was clear, however, that much fewer students applied than the 1,000 to 1,500 the municipality had reckoned on.

Strict rules

The many rejections, also in Maastricht, are a result of the strict rules. Students under 21 years of age are not eligible at all. And the maximum amount that students can borrow from DUO, is automatically added to their income, a spokesperson for the municipality said. “In addition, students often receive an amount from their parents and they have jobs. When all sources of income are added up, this puts them above the income limit of 120 per cent of the social security standard.” Not living in independent accommodation, no energy contract in one’s own name, or not paying one’s own energy costs, are other common reasons for rejection.

The extra emergency funds for inhabitants who lost out on the energy compensation – which the Maastricht city council presented in January – also seems to offer hardly any relief for this group. Despite less strict conditions (such as students in rooms being eligible to apply), this was only issued to a handful of students: 50 pay-outs to 363 applications among all citizens. The main reason for rejection appeared to be that the energy costs had not risen enough for these households, said the municipality spokesperson.

Photo: Loraine Bodewes

Tags: energy allowance,municipality,compensation,students

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