Applying for help from the Temporary Emergency Fund for Energy is too complicated, according to administrators. Many of their clients can’t figure out how to submit an application for help paying their energy bill through the app developed for the fund, they said to AD.
The government estimated that hundreds of thousands of people would need help from the temporary emergency fund, aimed at preventing low-income households from falling into debt by helping them pay their energy bills. But so far, only about 27,000 applications have been submitted, according to the newspaper.
According to the industry association of administrators NBBI, it is not because people don’t need help but because they can’t figure out how to apply for it. Applications must be submitted through an app and DigiD, and that is too complicated for many. Administrators also can’t take over this task because they aren’t allowed access to their clients’ DigiD. “Currently, an office can help with a maximum of five authorizations on this type of request. But a large office of administrators can have up to a thousand clients. It is painful,” NBBI secretary Bas Benjamis said.
A spokesperson for the NVVK, the industry association for debt counselors, thinks that the developers could have seen these problems coming. “You can estimate in advance that people will get stuck if the only option is to apply via an app. That is a known problem for people with a mild intellectual disability or the elderly.”
Due to the problems, the fund will remain open for a month longer than planned, until April 30, to give households more time to apply. The government is also working on a computer version of the application site. “Then people can also apply without a smartphone,” a spokesperson told AD. “We’ve been open for three weeks now and are working every day on ways to make the application more accessible. We call on everyone to check via noodfondsenergie.nl whether you are eligible for support.”
The emergency fund pays part of the energy bill between October 2022 and March 2023. Households with a gross income up to 200 percent of the social minimum are eligible for this support.