The municipality of Utrecht is introducing a number of financial measures to provide extra support to Utrecht residents due to rising prices. The municipality wants to accommodate the residents due to the high inflation and high energy prices.
The municipality believes that the measures are necessary because a growing group of Utrecht residents are getting into trouble. “Inflation rose to record levels in August, prices are now 13.6% higher than a year ago. A growing number of people and social organizations can barely make ends meet, energy bills and groceries threaten to become unaffordable. For every seventh household there is a risk of the energy being cut off.”
“These signals outline a bleak scenario for this autumn” – College van B&W
According to the municipality, it is no longer just Utrecht residents who receive benefits. People with middle incomes and full-time jobs are also at risk of getting into trouble because they can no longer pay their fixed costs. “These signals, together with the screaming inflation figures, paint a bleak scenario for this autumn,” says a letter from the municipal council to the city council.
National measures are being taken to limit the consequences of the crises, but the municipality says it will also do what is in its power. “Nevertheless, we also take into account that we will come across shocking cases that we cannot prevent,” the college writes. The municipality is now coming up with a number of measures that will take effect immediately.
For example, the extra energy compensation of 500 euros will be paid out as soon as possible to everyone who previously received 800 euros of energy compensation. In addition, the special assistance for energy reimbursement is being extended.
The €1,300 energy subsidy that people on low incomes can apply for doesn’t seem to be enough for everyone or people earn too much to be eligible for it. Nevertheless, economic pressure is also increasing in the latter group. “To ensure that they too do not fall through the ice in the autumn and end up with significant debt, we will come to the rescue and expand the current scheme.”
The extension means that residents with an income of up to 200 percent of the social minimum ‘without financial means’, who cannot pay the final bill in their energy company, can submit their bill to the municipality. It is therefore about people who have no savings or other assets to absorb the settlement. People who have savings or, for example, own their own house, should contact the municipality to find out if they are entitled to anything.
The municipality is also in talks with various organisations. For example, Stichting Leergeld is looking into whether a clothing pass can be made for children in vulnerable families, so that they have warm clothes for the coming winter. The municipality also wants to discuss what they need with organizations such as JOu, Dock and the food bank.
“The number of Utrecht residents who rely on our food parcels is increasing significantly” – Food Bank Utrecht
The food bank sounded the alarm on Friday about the situation in the city. “The number of Utrecht residents who depend on our food parcels is increasing sharply. Currently, we are already seeing a 10 percent increase from the beginning of this year, and we expect it to increase further. At the same time, the amount of products that the Food Bank receives is decreasing.”
The Food Bank expects to have to buy additional products to ‘get to full-fledged food packages’. “At the moment, we foresee a new crisis situation where many more Utrecht residents will find themselves in financial distress. That is why we are now appealing widely for help.”
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A number of energy saving measures will also be taken. The municipality is already distributing energy boxes, but still wants to see if more can be reached. In addition, an energy box is being made for student housing in collaboration with SSH. The box contains products that people can use to save energy, such as draft strips and radiator foil.
The municipality will also offer 300 households with a minimum income living in owner-occupied housing in Overvecht, Kanaleneiland, Hoograven and Zuilen to have hollow walls or floor insulation. Residents do not need to contribute financially to the insulation measure because it is paid for with a subsidy from the province of Utrecht. If this works well, it will also be extended to other Utrecht districts.
“We will not wait for a ban on the rental of homes with a low energy label in 2030” – College van B&W
Finally, we look at residents who are still outside of all these measures. For example, the municipality says it has few resources to encourage private landlords to take energy measures for homes. “Making measures for a home depends on the will of the owner. We are considering options to get this up a gear as well, and we will return to that later. We will not wait for a ban on renting out homes with a low energy label in 2030.”