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Catalan Government stops cutting off energy supplies to families in need

The Catalan Government has finally approved a decree protecting families in need from having their household electricity and gas cut off by energy supply companies during the winter months. The measure aims to fight the so-called ‘energy povert’: people who cannot afford to pay for their energy bills because they do not get minimum income. This way, the Catalan Government ensures they can continue having heating and using their cooking devices during the coldest period of the year. Energy companies will not be able to cut off supplies to these families between November and March. Besides, the Catalan Government has also approved a temporary budget extension for the coming weeks, since the People’s  Party (PP) – which runs the Spanish Executive – has blocked the approval of the 2014 budget.

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23 December 2013 08:16 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- The Catalan Government approved this Monday a decree protecting families in need from having their household electricity and gas cut off by energy supply companies during winter months. The measure aims to fight the so-called ‘energy poverty’: people who cannot afford to pay for their energy bills because they do not get minimum income. This way, the Catalan Government ensures they can continue having heating and using their cooking devices during the coldest period of the year. Between November and March energy companies will not be able to cut off supplies to these families, who will have to prove they are in need when they receive the first warning on supply interruption. Besides, in the same Cabinet weekly meeting, the Catalan Government also approved a temporary budget extension for the coming weeks, since the People’s  Party – which runs the Spanish Executive – has blocked the approval of the 2014 budget. Last week, the PP confirmed they would freeze the parliamentary process to pass the €29.31 billion budget for next year since it included €5 million (0.017% of the total) for “electoral processes and citizen consultations”. They fear this amount could be used to organise a self-determination vote, although the last Catalan Elections cost over three times more.


This Monday, the Catalan Government has approved the budget extension for the coming weeks since the PP is “boycotting” the parliamentary approval of the 2014 budget, stated the Catalan Presidency Minister, Francesc Homs, who is also the Executive’s Spokesperson. In addition, the Catalan Finance Minister, Andreu Mas-Colell, also criticised the PP’s decision: “The PP has decided that a [parliamentary] majority that wants to approve a budget is not enough to have them approved”, Mas-Colell emphasised. The budget extension will be in place until the 2014 figures are approved and enforced. This period could last for 4 or 5 weeks, until the end of January or early February. The budget extension has the same department expenditure than the amount allowed for 2013, explained Mas-Colell.

A special decree to fight “energy poverty”

The Catalan Government had included in the 2014 Budget Law a measure to fight “energy poverty”, preventing gas and electricity companies from interrupting household supplies to families in need. Since the budget’s approval will be delayed because of the PP, the Catalan Executive has passed this Monday a specific decree to implement this measure this January, before the budget’s definitive approval, in order not to harm those families. The measure is an initiative of the governing Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU) and its parliamentary ally, the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC).

Only the families with a global income equal or lower than €7,967.73 per year can benefit from the measure

The people who can benefit from this measure are those belonging to a family unit whose global income is equal or lower than €569.12 per month or €7,967.73 per year (set in the IRSC indicator). They should also meet two other conditions. Beneficiaries need to already pay a social tariff for their energy supply and must not have the possibility to reduce their goods and services consumption. Social services will analyse each situation, after receiving a petition from the affected family. The petition must be sent within the first 10 days after the company’s warning that their electricity or gas supply will be cut off. Once the affected family’s situation is verified, the energy companies will cancel the supply interruption between the months of November and March. However, the companies will continue to bill the families for their energy consumption. The debt’s payment will be postponed and should be paid between April and October.

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  • Mas-Colell (left) and Homs (right) announcing the budget extension (by P. Mateos)

  • Mas-Colell (left) and Homs (right) announcing the budget extension (by P. Mateos)