Rising costs of gas and electricity.

In addition, we can read in various media that energy costs for outdated homes are increasing much faster than previously predicted, and that it is expected that some of the people with lower incomes will no longer be able to pay their fixed costs and the number of people with problematic debt will increase .

Noordwijk municipality also has a number of outdated social housing with a low energy label. Noordwijk also has a group of residents with a somewhat lower income. These people cannot do much about the condition of their home.

On the one hand, the questions are aimed at how we can properly fulfill our duty of care for vulnerable residents, and on the other hand, what significance this situation has for the municipal finances.

The CDA faction specifically has the following questions, and these have recently been answered by the municipal council:

Question 1.
How does the municipality of Noordwijk incorporate the court’s decision that students and renters of rooms can also be entitled to the energy subsidy in its policy? What costs are associated with this for the municipality of Noordwijk? And how are these costs covered?

At present, it is the ministry’s directive that students are basically exempt from the categorical special assistance (energy supplement) in the policy regulations. Individual special assistance is a more targeted instrument. Deviations from the policy rules can take place on the basis of adaptation, in which situations energy supplements can still be granted (this has already happened). This will also be discussed at the upcoming meeting of the daily board of ISD Bollenstreek.

Grants in special cases put less pressure on the budget than grants for all students, as shown in the table below. In this way, energy compensation is only provided in cases where it is necessary, for example if a student has an independent household/residence for which he pays separate energy costs.

The number of students! in Noordwijk is around 2,500 according to CBS. This figure concerns both the number of students living at home and students living abroad. Although it is not known how many percent are away from home, a percentage of 20% has been used in the table below. If Noordwijk nevertheless wants to give students access to the energy supplement, this will entail the following costs on top of the already existing and expected costs for the energy supplement:

These costs are not covered by the budget promised by the government because students are not included in this budget as a household. In the current situation, the costs would therefore be borne by municipal resources.

Question 2.
How does the municipality support residents in poorly insulated homes with a below-average income? And do you see an opportunity to take additional measures to help these residents make their homes more sustainable and thus reduce their energy bills? If so, what further measures do you intend to take and how do you involve the Council in this?

Standard measures from the municipality of Noordwijk: As standard, the municipality of Noordwijk encourages and supports its residents with the possibility of applying for a sustainability grant and/or a sustainability loan. Residents with a below-average income will most likely not qualify for the sustainability loan. The sustainability grant is only for home owners and also residents of the home. The group of inhabitants/households that have to deal with energy poverty will therefore rarely be able to make use of these standard schemes.

Current additional measures for energy-poor households:
One-off energy subsidy: The municipality of Noordwijk pays a one-off energy subsidy to low-income households. Low-income households can receive €800. The tasks within social security have been outsourced by the municipality of Noordwijk to the ISD Bollenstreek. ISD Bollenstreek pays the amount in 4 installments of €200. In September 2022, an amount of 500 euros will be added to the 800 euros already paid. This is called an additional energy allowance.

Government benefit for energy poverty SPUK benefit: The government makes a total of more than 300 million euros available to municipalities to tackle energy poverty. The funds are paid out by means of a specific benefit (SPUK) to all municipalities in the Netherlands to support households experiencing energy poverty with energy-saving measures. The aim of SPUK is to reduce energy bills for households experiencing energy poverty before next winter. The municipalities largely decide themselves how they use the resources.

The municipality of Noordwijk is in the preparation phase for the implementation of this scheme. We are currently investigating a collaboration with ISD Bollenstreek and SME (external). We aim to map the target group of households with energy poverty as soon as possible and to be able to support them in the form of energy saving discussions and the implementation of energy saving measures. This state benefit runs until the end of 2023.

National insulation program NIP: In order to reduce the consumption of natural gas, it is important to insulate buildings properly. The government has therefore made 514 million euros available for a national insulation program in 2022, 2023 and 2024. The purpose of this program is to speed up the insulation of homes. The money is available for both owner-occupied and rented houses and is specifically intended to improve houses that currently still have a poor energy performance.

With good insulation, quite a bit of profit can be achieved with these houses. The financial resources from the NIP received by the municipality of Noordwijk before 2022 can also be used in combination with the state grant for energy poverty. This will not be the case for the years 2023 and 2024, and the financial resources are only available for the insulation of homes with a low energy label (E‚F and G).

Noordwijk energy buses: Since 2020, the municipality of Noordwijk has had energy buses. Energy coaches are skilled volunteers who inform fellow residents about energy savings. For example, an energy coach will look at your energy bill together with you and help you with tips to save energy. The energy coach looks at small measures and things you can do yourself, such as setting a thermostat as best as possible or gives you tips on how to use your large appliances such as the washing machine or dishwasher as economically as possible.

The municipality of Noordwijk currently has 18 energy coaches who are active. With the SPUK Energy Poverty Scheme, we intend to recruit/train energy coaches within the target group of households with energy poverty. The deployment of this group of energy coaches will be to advise/inform households experiencing energy poverty.

Providing information to the municipal board: The board is familiar with the standard measures. We will inform/send the further measures to the council in good time. Councilors can of course contact the relevant councilor with questions.

Question 3.
How is the municipality of Noordwijk preparing to support residents who find themselves in financial difficulties due to high energy prices? From this autumn, for example, will there be sufficient capacity to provide rapid debt advice and quickly decide on applications for special assistance?

Is the municipality prepared for a possible increase in the number of applications in these policy areas? Are there frequent consultations with partners in the social field and social initiatives to keep a good overview of relevant developments (eg consultations with food banks, diaconies and welfare organisations)?

Can you immediately inform the Council in the next 8 months if there are signs that the number of people who cannot cope in Noordwijk?

ISD Bollenstreek provides energy subsidies, debt counseling and special assistance. This has been prepared (of course to a certain extent) with a view to a possible increase in the number of applications for the Participation Act, special assistance and debt advice. So far there has been no visible increase. We expect to see this in the coming months due to several expiring energy contracts from residents.

There are frequent consultations with Stichting Voorieder1 and Welzijn Noordwijk. There are occasional consultations with other chain partners. However, people know where to find each other and can scale up quickly if needed. It is usual for any development in this area to be reported and discussed during the monthly meeting of the ISD Bollenstreek daily board. With this information, your council can be informed.

Question 4.
Can the municipality, in consultation with the housing companies, take the initiative to rapidly insulate poorly insulated rental and owner-occupied homes in the run-up to winter? For example, through additional subsidies for insulation material or collective purchases and subsequently making insulation materials available cheaply?

The municipality of Noordwijk is in ongoing consultation with the housing associations in connection with the housing vision and performance agreements. At home, the companies Antonius van Padua and STEK have an average B mark. They are constantly working to make their property more sustainable. Due to the high energy costs at the moment, we will once again discuss together how the homes that are not yet well insulated can be tackled as soon as possible. This statement must also show with which means we can best arrange this.

Question 5.
Can you specifically look at what extra can be done for residents of public rental housing with a lower energy label that is expected to be demolished within 10 years?

See answer 4: the municipality is in consultation with the housing companies to see what options are available for residents of a house with a lower energy label, regardless of whether the house is demolished within 10 years.

Question 6.
What impact do you expect the energy crisis and the associated measures to have on municipal income and expenditure?

The following applies to the energy supplement: If the policy is implemented within the ministry’s guidelines, it is expected that the expenditure will stay within the national budget and that there will be budget space (ISD-wide).

If the policy is relaxed, the space will be smaller, and any excesses will have to be paid for from municipal funds.

We hope to have informed you sufficiently about this.

Sincerely, Mayor and Councilor of Noordwijk.

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