The preliminary draft of the General State Budgets for the year 2022 contains an unprecedented increase of 44% in the item for the thermal social bonus, the help from the public treasury to compensate the thermal expenses caused to the most vulnerable consumers by the use of heating and hot water or cooking.
This is a “significant increase”, explained the Minister of Finance, María Jesús Montero, who stressed that it is “an essential tool to combat energy poverty in vulnerable people and that allows to alleviate, together with other measures, the increase in energy price of energy in wholesale markets “.
The Government figures 1,270,897 households benefiting from this aid, for which the State budgets for 2021 allocated 105 million euros, so the budget for 2022 would be 151 million.
The voucher is a single annual payment, the amount of which depends on the degree of vulnerability and the climatic zone in which the beneficiary’s habitual residence is located. In the case of a severe vulnerable consumer or at risk of social exclusion, the aid is increased by 60% with respect to that corresponding to their climatic zone.
In September, the Government imposed a 5% cap on the rise in the regulated gas rate, known as TUR, in a Royal Decree that includes a millionaire cut to electricity companies that the third vice president, Teresa Ribera, is now open to withdraw if the EU takes action in the face of the energy crisis in Europe.
The price of gas in international markets has hit all-time highs this week. This has caused the average daily price of the Spanish wholesale electricity market to set a record of 288 euros per megawatt hour (MWh) this Thursday. By Friday, the so-called pool will fall by 20%, but it stands at 229.2 euros, the second highest price in history.
The creation of a thermal social bond was one of the first measures carried out by the Government of Pedro Sánchez to alleviate energy poverty. With the aim of alleviating the economic burden of vulnerable families when facing the energy bill, in 2018 a royal decree-law was approved with which consumer protection measures were strengthened, the assumptions to access the electric social bond and this mechanism was put into operation for the first time.
This voucher is granted automatically for households that have the electricity social voucher, which is paid for by the electricity marketers and for which the consumer associations have requested this week that it also be granted automatically (in this case, you have to request it and the procedure is cumbersome), because they estimate that it only reaches 30% of potential beneficiaries. The Strategy Against Energy Poverty 2019-2024 contemplated the automatic concession of the electricity bonus, which has not yet been implemented.