VIDEOThe cabinet has not yet made a decision about compensating for the sharply rising gas bill for households and companies. “We will have a number of variants calculated,” says outgoing minister Stef Blok (Economic Affairs) this morning after a cabinet meeting. “We aim for households, including SMEs, to recover part of the sharp price increases.”
Tobias den Hartog and Peter Winterman
Blok does not want to say which variants are calculated. Sources from The Hague speak of a reduction in energy tax and a lower VAT on energy. But Blok also leans towards ‘targeted measures’, he says. ,,It’s complex, there are a lot of buttons that we can turn. The government takes it very seriously. We realize that these can be very hefty bills for people. Measures must be targeted: that it ends up where people really need it.”
According to Blok, there is ‘no direct correlation’ between people’s income and the insulation of their home. While acknowledging that the problems for low-income people are greatest in poorly insulated homes, Blok says that middle-income people and entrepreneurs in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can also find themselves in trouble if energy costs are high.
The cabinet wants to announce the measures it is taking before 1 November. Last month, the House of Representatives decided to allocate 500 million euros to compensate for the increased gas price. That is about 45 euros per average energy consumer. Too little, the House now thinks. A few billion euros are needed to further reduce the energy tax.
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Gas prices have risen sharply in recent weeks. Households without a fixed energy contract could spend up to 900 euros more on energy next year. This will shrink the purchasing power charts presented by the cabinet on Budget Day. In recent days, the Ministry of Social Affairs has calculated new purchasing power figures: they were also examined this morning.
The reduction of energy taxes does have a disadvantage, officials at the ministries see: namely that everyone benefits, including people with a fixed energy contract who are not at all affected by the increased gas price. Just like rich Dutch people who use a lot of heat to, for example, keep their swimming pool warm in the garden.
And that while poorer Dutch people, who often live in poorly insulated (rented) houses, are the hardest hit by the high gas price. That is why the cabinet is looking for ways to do something extra for these people. For example, they may be eligible for home insulation at an accelerated pace – through their municipality or housing association. But such measures take time. For example, many insulation companies already have waiting lists.
Large companies do not have to count on much compensation, it is expected. The government wants these companies to become more sustainable. If the government now compensates for their high gas bill, the incentive for companies to quickly get rid of gas will be a lot smaller.
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