Thursday 29 September 2022

Ministers plan energy bill bail out fund, schools sound alarm on costs

Photo: Depositphotos.com

Ministers are planning to launch a special fund to help people who cannot pay their soaring energy bills, broadcaster NOS reported on Monday evening.

The plan would allow the government to take over direct payments to energy firms if people are threatened with being cut off, NOS said.

According to some estimates, as many as one million of the Netherlands’ eight million households could face problems in paying their bills as gas prices reach record levels.

The new fund would only be used to help people who had to sign a new energy contract this year or who have a contract with variable costs. The aim, NOS said, is not only to help poorer families but to make sure energy firms don’t go bust because so many of their clients default on their bills.

Despite fears that the fund could be open to abuse, ministers believe speed is important, although they are looking at building in extra checks, NOS reported.

The cabinet hopes to present the finalised plan on Friday as part of a wider package of measures to deal with the impact of energy price hikes.

Schools

Meanwhile, the Financieele Dagblad reports that schools which have been told by energy minister Rob Jetten to end their contracts with Russian gas firm Gazprom are facing new contracts costing up to 12 times as much as they were paying.

Jetten said last week that all contracts with Gazprom have to end by October 10 because of EU sanctions against Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.

One school group, representing 70 schools nationwide, has seen its energy bill rise from €1.2 million to €15 million. ‘That is a massive amount of money which is not going into education,’ board member Yvonne Kops told the paper.

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