On October 12, 2022, Legal Advice Wanted was approached by "Hart van Nederland" (Heart of the Netherlands). Due to the rising energy crisis, many students were unable to afford their energy bills. While other low-income residents in the Netherlands were eligible for a one-time energy allowance, students were systematically excluded.
On October 12, 2022, Legal Advice Wanted was approached by “Hart van Nederland” (Heart of the Netherlands). Due to the rising energy crisis, many students were unable to afford their energy bills. While other low-income residents in the Netherlands were eligible for a one-time energy allowance, students were systematically excluded. At that time, L.A.W. was conducting an initiative in which students could receive free assistance in applying for the allowance. L.A.W. also provided voluntary representation for students in objection and appeal proceedings.
This initiative caught the attention of “Hart van Nederland.” Together with student Britt, a report was made about the escalating energy costs and the energy allowance:
Even students are not immune to the high prices. Instead of going out in the city, they lie in bed worrying about skyrocketing costs. Britt Buitenhuis from Amsterdam, alongside her studies, works a part-time job in the hospitality industry. However, she also feels the need to be more frugal.
“It has reached the point where I simply can’t save anymore. Monthly, I get by, but towards the end, I have to live a bit more frugally. I have to skip certain events. That’s all okay. Maybe that’s just part of being a student, but it has now reached a point where I can’t save anymore. That’s really a mess in the long run,” Britt tells Hart van Nederland.
Out of the 1500 euros that come in monthly through her student grant and part-time job, almost a thousand euros already go to rent and energy: “Then the rest is for paying insurance, subscriptions, and groceries, and you feel that at the end of the month. It all gets tighter.”
“So, now we have the heating turned off, and the lights are also mostly off, almost not on. This was fine in the summer and didn’t matter much, but now you really notice that it’s getting colder. You get cold hands at home,” says Britt.
She has learned a trick: “When we cook and want to boil water, we do it first with electricity before using the gas. That saves a few minutes.”
Britt works three days a week in the hospitality industry alongside her studies: “I would never stop my studies, but it’s true that I would like to work more. However, I can’t because I also have to study,” says Britt. “If it stays as it is now, it might just work out, but I can’t say it with certainty.”
Students like Britt do not qualify for the one-time energy allowance of 1300 euros that families and other households are entitled to. Legal Advice Wanted’s lawyers Robin Bosch and Jaap Kotteman, both recent graduates, try to help students qualify for an allowance: “We organize it nationally, so we gather as many students as possible. More than ten thousand students have already signed up. This way, we try to put pressure on the government and ensure that the responsible minister sees that this is not legally feasible.”