In mid-December, the federal government announced that anyone who was hit by an explosion in costs for heating with solid fuels – i.e. heating oil, wood pellets, liquid gas or coal – in 2022 should be relieved by a financial injection from federal funds. Accordingly, those affected should be paid a one-off grant of up to 2000 euros. To this day, however, they cannot even submit the necessary applications in almost all federal states. This was the result of a query by WELT AM SONNTAG at the responsible ministries of the federal states.
15 of the states agreed that an application was not yet possible. This means that more than ten million households that use such heaters are waiting for federal financial support – three months after the announcement.
The Federal Association of Consumers, which had campaigned last year for relief for all households because of the high energy prices, called for rapid implementation. “The federal and state governments are now called upon to finally get the application process and the corresponding contact points up and running. The affected consumers must be financially relieved in the short term," said its chairwoman Ramona Pop.
When asked, the responsible state ministries explained that the process is currently stalling at the federal level, more precisely at the responsible Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection of Robert Habeck (Greens): This has still not implemented an administrative agreement necessary for the payment of the planned 1.8 billion euros. It should regulate the key points necessary for the payment - for example, which reference price should apply to the price increases.
Schleswig-Holstein's consumer protection minister, Werner Schwarz, told WELT AM SONNTAG: "There are still fundamental questions that need to be finally resolved. I expect the federal government to present practicable solutions here as soon as possible, so that the states are immediately able to pay out the announced aid.”
The Federal Ministry of Economics said on request that they are currently working “under high pressure with the federal states” on the administrative agreement. The talks are “on their last legs”.
Only in Berlin is it currently possible to submit the applications. At the end of January, shortly before the local elections, the federal state provided its own budget of 75 million euros for the relief of those affected. So far, 12,000 households have submitted applications with a volume of less than 14 million euros, according to the responsible investment bank Berlin and the Berlin Senate Department for Economics, Energy and Businesses. The applications are currently being examined, and nothing has yet been paid out in Berlin.
The number of applications in the capital so far shows that there is enough money and nobody has to worry about being late. But they also show that there are apparently far fewer cases of hardship than was assumed by politicians in winter. At the time, North Rhine-Westphalia's Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst (CDU) believed that "millions of people" were in a "justice gap" because, unlike gas customers, they received no help. Markus Söder (CSU) also vehemently called for a “heating cost brake for everyone”.
Very few of the ten million households affected are likely to actually benefit from the subsidy. Because the nationwide regulation outlined in December stipulates that heating costs must have doubled compared to the previous year in order for an application to be approved. In this way, politics was based on the rules governing the gas price brake. There the price is capped at twelve cents per kilowatt hour. This is roughly double the value from 2021.
Berlin has already lowered the price threshold so that a certain number of consumers who heat with so-called "non-mains-connected fuels" can benefit from state aid. A premium of 70 percent compared to the previous year is sufficient there. If the other federal states stick to 100 percent, it will be difficult for heating oil customers to get even a cent reimbursed. This is shown by a look at the official figures from the Federal Statistical Office.
Accordingly, the reference price including VAT in 2021 was 71 cents per liter. That means: A customer must have paid at least 1.42 euros per liter in 2022 in order to be entitled. That didn't happen very often last year. The average price in Germany was only above EUR 1.42 including VAT in the months of March, June, July and October.
So if you didn't fill up at the time or were affected by regional price peaks, you won't benefit from the compensation payments that are finally being made nationwide.