In Limburg: Single mother Hanna from Limburg talks about the energy crisis: I don’t know how to beat winter (October 14, 2022)

In 2022, energy prices reached a record high. Just as during the Corona pandemic, the most vulnerable citizens were hit the hardest first and hardest. Marking the International Day Against Poverty on October 17, CAW Limburg tells the story of Hana, a single mother from Limburg. Its electricity bill rose from 85 euros to 1132 euros.

Hana is 45 years old and lives with her school-aged daughter in a rented house in Genk. Her three older children have now left home. She lives on alternative income and the energy crisis is giving her headaches. Since 2016, Hannah has had to solve the puzzle every month to make ends meet. Due to the change in her family’s status and income, she ended up in a collective debt settlement six years ago.

“As long as I was at work, I came,” Hanna says. “But things got worse when I lost my job and didn’t claim replacement income for a while.” Accordingly, the collective debt settlement was canceled and subsequently suspended. Hanna herself had to find a way to pay her fixed costs and debts. I contacted CAW for budget advice along with debt mediation. Step by step she got out of the money trough, she even found work again. But an error occurred again.

Hanna: “In December 2021, I fainted with exhaustion. I had panic attacks and hyperventilation. Thanks to a psychiatrist’s guidance, I’m better off today.”

In September 2022, Hanna found work again, but left her new job two days later. The employer did not respect the agreed working hours, and as a result she had to do work that required much more physical effort than planned. She is again busy with all kinds of papers and phone calls to arrange her sick benefits. However, it’s her energy bills that have been causing her a lot of anxiety lately.

Hanna did not give up. I once worked as an energy consultant and was inspired by that experience. She takes a critical look at her bill and changes the supplier if it’s more financially beneficial. She also performed an energy check in the past. It turned out that there was a problem with the boiler. She raised the matter with the landlord who renewed the installation.

“First, I paid 85 euros a month for electricity. After switching to another supplier, I suddenly received advance bills of 1132 euros. I called to ask for the advance to be reduced. Then I received an offer of 50 euros. There is another bill for more than 1000 euros on the bus. I can’t pay that on Most likely. I’ll let my power supplier drop me. There’s nothing else for that. Then I get a budget meter. I only use the amount I paid advance.”

Marlene Verheis, Team Supervisor and Consultant at CAW Limburg, hears the story with mixed feelings: “I understand Hanna considers the budget scale an outlet. We are also often at a loss these days. We want to support people with a budget for counseling and debt counseling., but with prices Current capacity We can provide a little perspective. For some people, their monthly advance bill is higher than their total income. This does not make budget routing and debt counseling easier. You can only mediate debt if, after paying fixed costs, there is something left to pay off the debt. This is so. If someone is dropped, there is debt and additional costs. In most cases, they must be repaid sooner or later, in part or in full. Whoever has a budget scale, still pays a heavy price for energy. It is not a structural solution. So the situation threatens to be hopeless to become. That is the opposite of what the counselor wants to achieve.”

“I really don’t know how to get through winter,” Hanna says. She heats her rented house with heating oil. These prices are also rising. “I need 1000 liters to keep the house warm in the colder months. I have no idea how to pay for that. If necessary, I will put out a kerosene fire. I also did it for a week last year when my fuel tank was empty and it wasn’t I have money to fill. I hear similar stories in my area. What will help me is more income, more child benefits and an affordable energy bill.”

An energy crisis is shaking things up, but energy poverty is nothing new. Figures from the 2019 Energy Poverty Barometer show that 1 in 5 households in Belgium live in energy poverty. “That number is undoubtedly higher today,” says Marilyn. “Widely shared savings advice sometimes hits the hardest of people in poverty. They’ve been applying these tips for years. At CAW Limburg, we advocate for structural solutions that, for example, result in social and private rental housing being of high quality. High quality and affordable.” A structural solution to rising energy prices, for example through a price cap, would also provide a solution. Energy is a basic need that must remain within everyone’s reach.”

On October 17, CAW Limburg traditionally supports World Anti-Poverty Day. Staff and teams participate in campaigns in Sint-Truiden and Hasselt, among others. Mail is also scheduled to be sent to primary and secondary schools.

About CAW Limburg
Centrum Algemeen Welzijnswerk Limburg helps people with any questions about well-being. difficult relationship. personal difficulties. Financial, administrative, legal or material problems. Problems in your family, relatives, or wider social environment. We also provide assistance to victims and perpetrators of violence and abuse, and those involved in traffic accidents and crimes.

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