Berlin households are heavily reliant on natural gas for heating, electricity and cooking , Source: Ioann Mark Kuznietsov / Unsplash

Berlin opens own energy aid scheme for 85% of residents

Berlin opens own energy aid scheme for 85% of residents

Authorities say this is to prevent spiralling debt and power cuts, and to give people more courage for the winter

On 9 January, applications for the energy hardship fund will be open for the residents of Berlin. The fund was set up by local authorities as an addition to national measures against the energy and gas crisis.

According to Senator for Social Affairs Katja Kipping, the fund will not be only for the most disadvantaged households. Instead, around 85% of the city’s population will be able to benefit.

Additionally, people will only be able to apply for cold aid online, which should create a bit of a digital gap for less tech-savvy people. However, Senator Kipping, explained that people employed in social services have been trained to help in these cases.

Preventing debt spirals due to the energy crisis

Although financial aid schemes usually aim to help more vulnerable households, Berlin’s authorities have said they want to cast a wider net with this offer. Senator Kipping was quoted by the DPA, explaining that this measure could prevent a lot of people from spiralling into debt, prevent energy cuts and soothe people’s fears about being left in the cold and dark.

For a single-person household, the threshold is set at 33,600 euros, while for a single parent with a child, it's 46,800. There are two main prerequisites for applying for the aid – proof of income in the last three months and a power-cut notice from an energy provider from 2023.

Authorities say that the process of applying for and getting the subsidy would be significantly quicker because everything will happen online. This could help to prevent power cuts before they even happen.

The programme has a total budget of 20 million euros, yet authorities are unsure of how many applications they can expect to receive. In 2021 there were around 11,000 cases of power cuts and 1,700 for gas across Berlin - whether the magnitude is still realistic after the significant increase in energy costs is an open question.



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