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More and more Belgians defer payment of bills amid explosion in energy prices
As energy prices continue their steep climb, more and more Belgians are having to defer paying their bills.
While it doesn’t have precise figures for the whole sector, the Belgian Federation of Electricity and Gas Companies (Febeg) confirmed a rising trend in deferred payment plans, reported L’Echo.
Provider TotalEnergies said payment plan requests increased by 80% between December and March, and the total amount of payment plans has increased by 50% since the beginning of the year.
Engie also confirmed an increase in requests: “They have more than doubled compared to the payment plans of the last two years, both in number and in amount.”
The reasons for this have everything to do with the explosion in energy prices across Europe. And while every country has seen prices rise even higher as a result of the war in Ukraine, they’ve risen twice as fast in Belgium than in neighbouring countries and the increase here is the highest in all of the EU.
Eneco says that requests for payment deferment plans are increasing “little by little,” and fellow-provider Mega said the number of customers currently on a payment plan with them has doubled, though it still “only concerns 1% of our customer base.”
Provider Octa+ reports that between April 2021 and April 2022, the number of payment plans has almost tripled “for amounts that have also risen sharply”.
Amid the soar in prices and the resulting struggle to pay bills that many Belgian households are facing, the Federal Energy Ombudsman – which received a record number of complaints last year due to rising energy prices – has advocated extending the payment period for energy bills to at least 30 calendar days.
Photo: Belga/Nicolas Maeterlinck