At the end of April the LSVb opened the Energy Poverty Hotline, where students are able to tell their story. Most of the 150 students who have made a notification up to now are paying between 50 and 80 euros per month more for their energy, the LSVb estimates.
For example, a student at Erasmus University is renting a room for 625 euros per month and is now paying an additional 275 euros in service charges instead of 125. ‘I am already looking for another room because I simply don’t have enough money left for textbooks, clothing and food.’
A Fontys student is living in a self-contained apartment but is sharing his energy bill with the residents of other apartments in the same house. ‘They are getting the 800-euro energy compensation for low-income households but I am not, for the sole reason that I’m still a student.’
No welfare benefit either
The only option for these students is to ask the municipality for individual special assistance, says LSVb chair Ama Boahene. ‘But municipalities such as Utrecht, Amsterdam and The Hague – and probably more – have already said that students will not get that welfare benefit. Some are willing to do so but have told us that they don’t have the funds available.’
Minister for Poverty Policy Carola Schouten wrote two weeks ago to the House of Representatives that municipalities always have the possibility to grant students individual special assistance in distressing situations. But she also acknowledged that these are generally an exception to the local minimum income policies. She will receive all the hotline notifications next Tuesday from the LSVb.