Belgium comes with a comprehensive support package to cope with increased energy bills for citizens and businesses. Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo announced this on Friday.
In the months of November and December, families receive, among other things, an allowance of 135 euros per month for gas and 61 euros for electricity. For the higher incomes, the surcharge does not apply, although they do receive a tax advantage. Families who still have an advantageous energy contract are also excluded from the scheme.
The Belgian government has already taken several measures to reduce the energy bill. Thus, the social tariff for the lowest incomes was expanded and extended. The VAT on gas and electricity was also reduced.
“The problem, however, is that prices have continued to rise so hard that the middle class is also getting into trouble,” explained De Croo.
The social tariff benefits about 20 percent of the population. Around 85 percent could benefit from this basic package, so also the broad middle class. For families that heat with heating oil, the existing check will be increased from 225 euros to 300 euros.
The government is also taking measures in favor of companies. Enterprises in difficulty will be able to spread out their payment of social charges over a long period of time. In addition, Brussels will come up with a temporary unemployment scheme for companies that are in trouble because of the high energy bills and have to shut down production, for example. This arrangement is similar to measures during corona. Companies are also protected against bankruptcy if they can no longer pay the energy bill. Belgium will also reduce excise duties.
Other countries are not standing still either. For example, France plans to limit the increase in the price of energy for households to 15 percent. That step will cost the Government 16 billion euros in 2023. To strengthen energy security, the German government plans to take over the three major gas importers Uniper, VNG and Securing Energy for Europe (SEFE).
The UK Government is currently working on a plan to halve the energy bill for businesses. That plan is part of a £ 40 billion (just under € 46 billion) support package that Prime Minister Liz Truss is currently finalising.
The rescue operation reduces the wholesale price included in corporate energy contracts. This is then set at around the same amount charged to households. That could mean around a 50 percent discount for companies that have recently secured their contracts.