After several meetings without result, the federal government's cabinet met again on Friday and this time it took a series of measures to reduce the energy expenditures of households and businesses. The main idea is not to extend access to the social tariff to a greater number of people but to offer those who do not benefit from it aid proportional to their income.
For households, support of 135 EUR for gas and 61 EUR for electricity will be put in place for the months of November and December. The measure will be targeted according to income and contracts. A fuel oil check of 300 EUR is also provided.
"Energy bills are particularly high at the moment, not only in Belgium, but in all the countries of Europe", said the Prime Minister today in front of the cameras, "That is why we said that we would put everything in work to support citizens and businesses as best as possible [...] and we have decided, in the federal government, to take a package of measures necessary to bring solutions to these very difficult months that our families and businesses are going through. In addition to having extended until March 31, 2023 the "very important" measures already in place (6% VAT on electricity and gas, the extended social tariff), the federal government has therefore taken another package of "basic measures", detailed by Alexander de Croo and the ministers present at the kern.
All individuals who do not have a fixed contract concluded or renewed from October 1, 2021, i.e. 50% of contracts, will receive mentioned aids. For people whose annual income exceeds a certain threshold (62.000 euros net for a single person, 125.000 euros for a couple), the tax authorities will consider the intervention as a taxable benefit. According to the government, this only concerns the highest 15% income bracket. For each additional dependent, 3.700 euros are added to the annual net taxable income.
Companies and freelancers
New measures are also taken for companies and the self-employed people: possibility of deferring payment of social security contributions and tax, establishment of temporary 'energy' unemployment, a moratorium on bankruptcies and setting of excise duties gas/electricity at the European minimum for the months of November and December.
For temporary unemployment, the worker will receive 70% of his remuneration plus 6.10 euros per day, like what was practiced during the Covid crisis.
"The reduction in excise duties on the first slices of consumption, this represents 325 euros for a baker or 1,000 euros for a neighborhood supermarket", illustrated the Minister of the Economy Pierre-Yves Dermagne.
The federal government is also reinstating the bridge law measure, put in place during the health crisis. Longer repayment plans will also be provided for self-employed social security contributions. Awareness of advance payments of social security contributions for the self-employed will be put in place.
“Of the 25 measures that I had put on the table after meeting the stakeholders, more than half have been decided and will be implemented”, underlined the Minister for the Independents David Clarinval, again citing the implementation of plans repayment of tax debts or tax exemption for regional aid measures.
For the self-employed, it will be possible, amicably, to spread the payment of social contributions without penalties over a long period, if difficulties have been observed during the last half of 2022, the first quarter of 2023 or during the annual holidays, underlined the Minister of Social Affairs Frank Vandenbroucke.
Finally, the agri-food sector will also benefit from priority energy supply in the event of a risk of disruption.
These measures should mobilize an amount of 1 billion euros for the government.