A group of students have filed a lawsuit against Groningen and four other municipalities over their decision to exclude students from this year’s energy subsidy scheme which was targeted at lower-income households, the Volkskrant reports today. The government offered eligible families and individuals a one-off energy allowance of €800 last spring which was later followed by an additional €500 payment. Students, however, were largely left out of the government assistance package despite being severely affected by the the cost-of-living crisis.
Some opposition parties and student groups have long called for the energy allowance to be extended to students to help them pay their electricity and gas bills which have sharply risen this year. But local authorities, when implementing measures to shield citizens, usually follow the central government’s guidelines which state that students under 27 are not eligible for the energy assistance. Some municipalities, however, have excluded students of all age groups, according to student leaders and some political parties.
Last August, a Nijmegen University undergraduate, Mark Mulder, successfully sued the local authorities for their failure to include students in the cost of living assistance scheme. President of the National Student Union Joram van Velzen pointed out at the time that the ruling constitutes an important precedent for the student community in the country. “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,” he said.
The Union says over a thousand students are taking part in the legal battle against the municipal councils with Groningen, Leiden, Delft, Rotterdam, and Vijfheerenlanden being the first to be sued.