Student Melle files a lawsuit against the municipality for energy allowance: "Struggling to make ends meet"

Student Melle van der Geest (24) stood in court against the municipality of Amsterdam on Tuesday. His demand: the energy allowance of a total of 1800 euros, which others with low incomes have also received. The municipality currently excludes students from the scheme.

Last year, Melle submitted an application to the municipality for the energy allowance, but it was rejected. “Reason: you are a student,” he says. “I thought, this can’t be true. I need to do something about this.” Together with the Legal Advice Wanted (LAW) legal advisory bureau, Melle filed the lawsuit.

“Students can often rely on their parents, borrow more, or work more” – Mirjam Mulders, municipality employee

This is not the first time a student has taken a municipality to court for this reason. A student from Nijmegen already won a case in August at the court in Arnhem. Daan Swildens from LAW is assisting Melle during the trial. “An unjust distinction is being made between students and non-students,” he says. “Students like Melle should be compared to those with low income and not be excluded as a group.”

The municipality disagrees. “Those with low income are more vulnerable. They have no resilience,” says Mirjam Mulders, policy officer, to the judge. “The situation of students is often temporary, and they can often rely on their parents, borrow more, or work more.”

“That’s easy to say,” Melle thinks. “It is not self-evident that your parents can support you financially.” He is studying two full-time programs. “I don’t have time to work enough alongside this, and I already borrow the maximum.”


According to the municipality, the living situation of students is also ‘significantly different’ from those with low income. “For example, they live with multiple people and in smaller rooms,” says policy advisor Geerten Kruis. Mulders adds, “The risk of overcompensating is greater than with other people with low income, due to the diversity of the group.”

Different Fund

In some other municipalities, students do receive energy allowances. The municipality of Amsterdam does have a fund available for people in dire financial need, where, for example, the energy is cut off. This goes through a different assistance scheme, and students can also claim this. “But that is a completely different instrument with different requirements,” says Swildens. The municipality acknowledges this.

LAW started a campaign in September last year to help students obtain energy allowances. Ten thousand students have signed up for this. The verdict on Melle’s case will be announced on March 14. If he wins, it will be good news for this group.

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