The caretaker cabinet is prepared to look at ways to compensate households for spiralling energy bills, finance minister Wopke Hoekstra told MPs on Thursday.
Many people may have to pay hundreds of euros more because a shortage of supply is boosting prices.
The minister said the cabinet ‘would have to act’ and expressed surprise at the speed at which the problem had snowballed.
The cabinet had already earmarked €375m to help people on low incomes to pay their energy bills but experts said that would not be enough to compensate the ever increasing costs.
Family spending institute Nibud said more political measures were needed, such as higher wages and benefits. This would make sure people on low incomes don’t have to spend a disproportionate amount of their income on energy, Grabrielle Bettonville told broadcaster NOS.
She also said energy prices needed to be curbed, for instance by lowering taxes.
Rabobank economist Hugo Erkens said the average household can expect a €900 energy bill hike next year when new contracts are issued. ‘The average bill is currently between €1,500 and €1,600 a year, of which €1,000 is for gas. If you top that up by €900 then many households will struggle,’ he said.
Almost half of Dutch households live in poorly insulated houses, driving up energy use, TNO found earlier this year.
Some 550,000 households are living in so-called ‘energy poverty’, combining high energy costs and badly insulated homes. Of this group half live on a relatively low income as well.
TNO also estimated that some 140,000 households are in the ‘hidden energy poverty’ category of people who are cutting down on energy use because of potential financial problems.
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