Dutch government makes it harder for energy companies to cut off unpaying customers
The Dutch government has introduced a new rule that adds a grace period for anyone unable to pay their energy bills. Instead of being immediately cut off, their energy supplier must now send three payment reminders over a period of at least 42 days before taking any action.
New grace period for those unable to pay energy bills
While the weather so far this autumn has been extremely mild, and the government has taken some action in order to protect families and households from the rising cost of energy, many across the Netherlands are still worried about how they’ll make ends meet this winter.
The latest change in the government's package of measures comes in the form of temporary legislation, under which energy companies are required to issue unpaying customers with at least three payment reminders, each with an interval of at least 14 days, before cutting off a customer’s energy supply.
The suppliers are also required to attempt to contact the customer in a variety of ways (i.e. by phone, by post) before taking any action, and they must be able to prove they have done so. Finally, before moving to cut off the customer’s supply of gas and electricity, they must inform the relevant municipality, who will make one final attempt to get in touch with the customer and offer financial assistance.
Support for people in the Netherlands struggling with rising bills
Under the current rules, Dutch energy companies can cut off a customer's energy supply after just one unanswered payment reminder. Under the new legislation, a supplier will only be able to sever the supply if they have received no word from the customer, and any households that recently saw their energy cut off after failing to pay a bill will be reconnected as soon as possible.
The temporary legislation, presented yesterday by Climate Minister Rob Jetten, will remain in effect until April 1, 2023, and comes just weeks after he agreed that no one should see their energy switched off if they cannot pay their bills. The new grace period for unpaying customers comes on top of the cap on gas and electricity prices, the financial support package available via municipalities, and the energy compensation scheme in November and December.