Poverty aldermen from fourteen student cities, together with political youth organizations, urge the ministers Robbert Dijkgraaf (Education) and Carola Schouten (Poverty Policy) to compensate students as quickly as possible in their energy bills via DUO. Municipalities do not have the capacity to help students. That is why national support through the implementing organization is much more logical, say the aldermen from Groningen, Delft and Utrecht, among others, in a letter that was sent out on Wednesday.
Increasing energy bill
An increasing number of people, including students, are finding it increasingly difficult to pay the rising energy bill. Students are still excluded from all regulations, but the judge in Nijmegen recently ruled that they should not be excluded from help. ‘As a result of this court decision, municipalities still seem to be responsible for compensation for the entire group of students living away from home. This has enormous consequences’, the aldermen write in a letter to The Hague. In several municipalities, this means that the target group that can claim compensation has more than doubled. Utrecht alone has 33,000 students, many of whom have difficulty paying their energy bills.
No financial compensation
Municipalities are unable to organize student aid, they explain to the ministers. Finding out who is eligible for an energy surcharge takes a lot of time that has not been factored in and the municipalities do not receive financial compensation for it. ‘Processing and paying out these applications is therefore at the expense of other residents and children who need help from the municipality’, the administrators conclude.
They therefore point to DUO. After all, it has all student data. The organization that pays out the scholarships has all the account numbers, so it is much more efficient to have the compensation go that route, the aldermen say.
They also indicate that they want to speed up the compensation scheme. ‘The need is growing for a large group of students who do not have parents who can help and who cannot get help in other ways. They are also feeling the consequences of the increased prices. Municipalities do not have the right resources and capacities to support them’, according to the aldermen, who therefore call for help from the central government. They are supported by, among others, the Young Democrats (D66), Dwars (GroenLinks), Pink (PvdD), Young Socialists (PvdA), CDJA (CDA) and Perspectief (CU). The fourteen cities are Utrecht, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Eindhoven, Maastricht, Tilburg, Nijmegen, Arnhem, Wageningen, Delft, Leiden, Enschede and Groningen. (ANP)