No energy allowance for young people and students is discrimination

By Bestuur on 18-08-2022

The news has been full of it lately; ‘extra money for reducing energy poverty’, ‘young people and students are not eligible for an energy allowance’, and ‘exclusion of students with regards to the energy allowance is unlawful’. What is happening on this topic in the municipality of Maastricht?

In Maastricht, students are also excluded from the energy allowance. Where there used to be ambiguity, there is now clarity; the municipal executive recognizes that discrimination takes place but does not use any resources to rectify this. [1] What preceded this?

In April, M:OED asked for the first time questions about who exactly qualifies for the allowance. [2] We are afraid that students and young people will be hit hard by the rising prices since in our city a significant part of this group lives in monumental and poorly insulated buildings. The college replied: “For 18–20-year-olds, they can make an appeal to their parents for their energy costs. [……] Because of this diversity in living situations, individual special assistance is a more suitable instrument for this target group [students under the age of 27] than categorical special assistance.”. We question this decision. What if parents are unable or unwilling to help? Or, one of the conditions to applying for individual personal assistance is that your student loan should be on maximum, but why do you have to go into debt before you may receive compensation? And this continues to discriminate against students, doesn’t it?

So, when the news came in June that excluding students from the energy allowance is illegal, M:OED submitted questions again. This time together with the SP, GroenLinks, and PvdD. [3] According to lawyers, excluding students based on their living situation is incorrect and discriminatory. All forms of housing used by students – with parents, independently, or in rooms – are also used by non-students. So, with this news, we were wondering where students can now apply for the energy allowance? This time, the municipality executive acknowledged the discrimination but was looking to the government for additional money. As long as the government advises not to provide students with an energy allowance, the municipality will not do that either.

Now you naturally wonder, is this the case in other municipalities too? The answer is no. The municipality of Zwolle, Tilburg, Leiden, and Delft do provide students the right to the energy allowance. Okay, well, if the municipality of Maastricht really has no money for the one-off energy allowance for students, can they do something else?

We absolutely think that is the case. The municipality of Maastricht can proactively get to work and find a solution for students. For example, by starting a trial process to convince the government the municipality needs extra funds to compensate the students. Surely, we cannot discriminate against students and leave them standing out in the cold? This is why we submitted a motion before the last council meeting in July to request the college to take action. [4, 5 & 6] Unfortunately the motion was not passed: the majority of the council preferred to wait for other court cases.

Meanwhile, the first student in Nijmegen has won a lawsuit against the municipality. The judge has ruled: students are entitled to the one-off energy allowance.(august)

With this information, we are curious about what the municipality of Maastricht will do. We hope to hear from them soon.

We will keep you informed of the outcome!

Author: Joyce Grul

[1] The municipal executive is responsible for the day-to-day management of the municipality and implements the policy of the municipality. The council is formed by the mayor and seven aldermen and is supported by the municipal secretary.
[2] Read the submitted questions “Written questions from M:OED regarding energy poverty” on the municipality’s website and the answers via: questions and answers. (Dutch)
[3] Read the submitted questions “Written questions M:OED, SP, GroenLinks and PvdD – energy compensation for students” on the website of the municipality and the answers via: questions and answers. (Dutch)
[4] Read the full motion “Energy compensation students” here. (Dutch)
[5] View the agenda item “Motion M:OED – Energy compensation students” during the council meeting on 19 July link (Dutch)
[6] In a motion, the council can make a specific request to the college. The council then votes on this topic. If the majority votes in favor of the motion, the motion is passed. At that point, the college must carry out the motion.

Stay updated

By subscribing agree to the processing of your personal data in accordance with our privacy policy.