Mark Mulder successfully sued the municipality of Nijmegen for excluding students from the €800 council allowance scheme designed to help with the cost of living, news site Sikkom reports.
Some opposition parties and student groups have long called for the one-off bonus to be extended to students saying that the cost-of-living crisis was hitting that group particularly hard. Poorest Dutch households received a one-time energy allowance as a compensation for high energy prices, but students were largely excluded from the scheme.
Although municipalities across the country are responsible for the payment of the energy allowances, the funding comes from the central government. Local authorities, therefore, have to follow the national guidelines to determine who is entitled to compensation. Those guidelines state that students under 27 are not eligible for the government assistance. However, some municipalities have excluded students of all age groups, according to student leaders and some political parties.
“This ruling constitutes an important precedent for the student community in the country,” said Joram van Velzen, president of the National Student Union. “It is now legally established that students should not be excluded from the allowance. They are, therefore, entitled to compensation not only in Nijmegen, but also in other cities.”
Groningen braces for court fight
The €800 energy benefit is meant for people whose income does not exceed 120% of the social minimum. Some cities, such as Zwolle and Delft, do pay the allowance to students, but Nijmegen and Groningen do not, the broadcaster OOGTV reminds. That is why some groups are planning to take Groningen to court over the exclusion of students from the energy allowance plans. The Friday ruling seems to strengthen their position.
A spokesman for the municipality of Groningen said Friday that the authorities were studying the Arnhem court’s adjudication. Groningen does not have the budget to compensate all low-income students, council member Ceciel Nieuwenhout (GroenLinks) said last week, which means that the city will have to request the funding from the Hague if students are to be compensated.