Amsterdam Student Takes Legal Action for Energy Allowance

On January 31, a student from Amsterdam will face the municipality in court. Supported by the legal advisory firm Legal Advice Wanted, he aims to compel the municipality to grant him an energy allowance.

ANP – January 19, 2023, 18:27
Published in: Het Parool, AD, Trouw, AT5, Het Noord-Hollands Dagblad, De Gooi en Eemlander, WNL, MSN, De Nationale Onderwijsgids, The NL Times.

Last year, people with low incomes could claim a one-time energy allowance of 1,300 euros, intended to offset increased costs, including heating. However, in most municipalities, students cannot benefit from this scheme. They can attempt to obtain an allowance through individual exceptional assistance, but this comes with strict conditions.

Unfair, say students. They, too, generally have little money to spare, while the costs, including energy, have risen for them as well. The court in Arnhem previously ruled that students should not be excluded from the allowance, after a student from Nijmegen filed a case. Some municipalities subsequently decided to make the energy allowance available to students, but not all of them.

Exceptional Assistance

In Amsterdam, for example, students can only receive extra money from the municipality if they apply for exceptional assistance. However, a stricter income limit is applied to qualify for this assistance compared to the energy allowance, explains Jaap Kotteman, a lawyer from Legal Advice Wanted. Additionally, councilors from several municipalities, including Amsterdam, have previously informed the government that they cannot effectively help students through exceptional assistance.

Legal Advice Wanted, which also consults with the National Union of Students (LSVb) regarding the energy allowance, now wants to compel the municipality to pay out the 1,300 euros through the court. The advisory firm assists approximately 10,000 students across the country in obtaining an energy allowance. About thirty lawsuits are scheduled in various municipalities in the coming period. However, Kotteman believes that the outcome of the Amsterdam case will guide the actions of other municipalities. If the student prevails, he expects other municipalities to follow suit.

Energy Allowance for Students

LSVb also hopes that legal action will not be necessary in every municipality to achieve an energy allowance for students. “In Nijmegen, the door for a nationwide arrangement has been slightly opened,” says chairman Joram van Velzen. “Amsterdam has the opportunity to open that door a bit wider.”

The Hague reports that almost everyone eligible for an energy allowance there has received the money. Approximately 50,000 households received the amount, 99 percent of those entitled, according to the municipality. In The Hague, the amount is 1,400 euros, with the municipality adding an extra amount from its own funds. Among those 50,000 Hague households are no students; the city is one of the municipalities where they can receive an allowance through exceptional assistance.

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