L.A.W. wins lawsuit against Municipality of Amsterdam

According to the Amsterdam court, the municipality wrongly made a distinction between social minimum and students.

NRC Handelsblad, Roland van Erven14 februari 2023

Financial Compensation According to the Amsterdam court, the municipality wrongly made a distinction between social minimum and students.

The municipality of Amsterdam may not automatically exclude students from the right to the energy allowance introduced in 2022. This was ruled by the Amsterdam court on Tuesday. The allowance is intended for households with a low income, the so-called minimum. The municipality considers minimum and students as two separate categories, but according to the judge, the municipality cannot sufficiently justify the distinction made. However, this does not mean that the student who filed the case will now automatically receive the allowance. He must also meet other conditions for that.

What the ruling means for other students in the city is also unclear. The municipality of Amsterdam has not yet responded to the ruling. After a similar lawsuit in the municipality of Nijmegen with the same ruling, the municipal government decided to open up the allowance scheme, under conditions, to all students.

Dutch people with a low income can apply for an energy allowance of 1,300 euros for 2022 from their municipality as compensation for the rising energy prices. Students cannot apply for this because, according to national policy, they fall outside the category of ‘minimum’. This is because many students still live with their parents, and for many others, the energy costs are included in the rent of a room. Students can currently apply for individual special assistance.

Amsterdam, based on this national policy, also makes a distinction between minimum and students and therefore rejected the energy allowance application of the 24-year-old student Melle van der Geest. But he went to court to still receive the allowance. The judge now rules that “young people aged 21 and older who are at the beginning of their careers and receive a starting salary just above the minimum wage” are also entitled to the allowance, provided they meet a number of other conditions. For example, if a student earns more than 120 percent of the minimum wage, they still do not qualify for the energy allowance.

Previous Lawsuit In August last year, a student in Nijmegen also went to court because he disagreed with the municipal policy, which is based on advice from Minister Carola Schouten (Poverty Reduction, Christian Union). The judge also ruled that the municipality of Nijmegen made an “unjustifiable” distinction between minimum and students. Poverty aldermen called on Schouten and Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf (Education, D66) in a letter to have DUO arrange the financial energy compensation for students because that organization has all the relevant data of students. The politicians did not comply with this.

In Delft, Tilburg, and Zwolle, among other places, students can also qualify for the allowance.

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