Switching energy suppliers does not provide any benefit if you have a social rate, notes the Energy Ombudsman Eric Houtman. “So it makes no sense to take the V-test or sign up for a group purchase. Be careful if you do change, because then you will have a lot of administrative hassle with higher advance invoices because you are not yet registered as a customer who is entitled to the social rate and then you have to start calling to rectify this. ”
Who is entitled to a social rate?
Stefan Goemaere of the non-profit association Samenlevingsopbouw explains: “It is a misconception that the social rate is aimed at people with energy debts or people in energy poverty.” And he lists the rights holders: “Until recently, there were 4 categories of people who are entitled to the social rate in Flanders:
- people who receive the living wage through the OCMW or people who receive an imposition for the living wage,
- people with an income guarantee for the elderly from the federal pension service,
- people who receive disability benefits through the FPS Social Security. In Flanders, two groups are added: those entitled to an allowance for assistance to the elderly and those entitled to increased child benefit,
- the social tenants of a building where the heating on natural gas takes place via a collective installation. That social rate only applies to natural gas. ”
Corona makes the group grow
A large group has been added since 1 February 2021, says Stefan Goemaere: “Via a temporary measure that will run until the end of this year, there is also a social rate for people who are entitled to an increased contribution from the health insurance fund. These are people whose health insurance liver ends in 1. ”
Cindy Van Geldorp, experience expert of the Network against Poverty responds: “The extension of the social tariff meets a long-standing demand for extension of the social tariff to all people with an increased allowance. It can provide breathing space for many people and families where the water is currently on our lips. ”
You can find all official information about rights holders here.
Social rate is automatically applied
Those who are entitled to a social rate should not do anything. “Normally, the right is automatic and people do not have to do anything themselves,” explains Stefan Goemaere. “The federal government provides lists of all rights holders to the suppliers and they must check whether their customers are on the list. The suppliers receive this list 4 times a year. If you are on the list, you will receive the social rate from the moment you are entitled. So with retroactive effect. You also receive the social rate until the end of the year. If you are still on the list, it just continues. It is therefore automatic, but certainly with a first allocation, often with a delay. For the group of social tenants, it is the owner, ie the social housing company or municipality, who must submit the application. But then it also runs automatically for the consumer. ”
“It is positive that the social tariff is granted automatically, so that people do not have to worry about it,” says Cindy Van Geldorp of the Network against Poverty.
The Ombudsman for energy Eric Houtman does make an exception for the large group of people with increased compensation from the health insurance fund who have been temporarily entitled to the social rate since 1 February 2021: “But the suppliers will only automatically know which customers are entitled in May 2021. on the social rate through the increased health insurance allowance. There is no obstacle to requesting an adjustment of the advance invoice from the supplier now. A paper certificate from the sickness insurance fund with the right to this increased allowance must suffice. Suppose the supplier nevertheless refuses that certificate, you can contact the Ombudsman for energy. ”
The website of the Energy Ombudsman can be found here.
Social rate is very advantageous
The social rate is the cheapest rate on the market, says Stefan Goemaere: “It’s the same for everyone in our country, regardless of the region where you live. The average electricity consumption of a household in Flanders is 3500 kWh. You pay around € 640 for this consumption wherever you live if you are entitled to a social rate. “
For natural gas, the social tariff for an average consumption (23,260 kWh) costs 490 € on an annual basis. A normal rate is about twice as expensive.
So the social rate makes a big difference, in terms of monthly payments, says Stefan Goemaere: “Especially when you know that those who are entitled to the social rate also have low benefits or income through the band. The social tariff is a means for them not to fall into energy poverty and to get back on top of it. ”