The Federal Government unveiled a new set of policies aimed at easing the financial burden that fast-growing energy costs are placing on people. The select ministerial committee’s debate lasted seven hours until the ministers came to an agreement on steps to help defend the middle class through targeted initiatives on Friday.
The “reduced price energy plan,” proposed by Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, guarantees households assistance of up to €135 for gas and €61 for electricity each month for November and December. Income requirements and terms of the energy contract will determine eligibility.
The government has also increased the value of heating fuel coupons from €225 to €300. The difference can be paid to people who have already received their heating oil subsidy.
In addition, the government has outlined a number of policies for companies and independent contractors. These include enabling businesses to postpone paying taxes and social security payments, implementing a temporary “energy” unemployment benefit, and putting a stop to bankruptcies.
A moratorium on excise taxes on gas and electricity, which applies to 50,000 MWh of gas and 1,000 MWh of electricity, will also be advantageous to businesses. The government intends to provide €1.5 billion to pay for this.
“This second aid package was required to assist the middle classes and SMEs, in addition to the social energy rates we have extended. A minimal amount of energy will be available to them at a set price, according to Georges Gilkinet, vice president of the Ecolo party.
The soaring cost of electricity has caused individuals who were already impoverished to become much poorer since September of last year. The middle class in Belgium, which is often more immune to financial shocks, has been severely impacted by the cost of the living issues and the quickly rising energy costs. Many people in Belgium have been turning to CPAS, Belgium’s social security provider, for assistance in paying their utility bills.
The new financial assistance aims to increase social support for weaker middle-class groups in Belgium.