Municipalities expect huge demand for heating aid in Latvia

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The system for partially compensating for the increase in energy resources have been supported by both the government and the Saeima. Both the increase in heating costs and the administration of housing benefits will be the responsibility of municipalities, which expect a huge demand and therefore possible delays in the payouts of compensations, Latvian Radio reported on August 12. 

As reported, State aid for heating will include price increase compensations for households using gas, electricity, central heating, firewood, wood pellets, or briquettes, including the option criticized by businesses to claim one-off aid without proof of purchase of heating materials. The handling of these compensations, apart from gas and central heating, will be on the shoulders of the municipalities. At the same time, housing benefits will be extended this autumn, but municipal social services are already congested. The processing of all applications scheduled for autumn will take a long time, although local governments will count on the recruitment of additional employees. 

Due to the specific nature of the work, it could be difficult to find new employees, said Ilze Rudzīte, advisor to the Latvian Association of Local Governments (LPS).

“What we see from the social services is that there may be difficulties in attracting additional people, because we understand that there will be fixed-term contracts, and the pay is probably not too attractive, and is it a complicated, tedious process,” said the LPS representative.

The municipalities are already awaiting autumn with some concern and the amount of additional work. The Welfare Department of Riga City Council has a plan for submitting applications. It will be presented after August 22, detailing where and when residents can address applications.

The expected number of applications to be processed will be huge. Ministries estimated that 44,000 households would qualify for housing benefits or about 100,000 inhabitants. Applications for electricity consumed by a heat pump are expected from around 40,000 households, while at least 60,000 households are expected to apply for aid with pellets and briquettes. More than 130,000 households will be eligible for compensation for the purchase of wood either with proof of payment or €60 for the purchase of wood without proof.

A single digital solution will facilitate the work of municipalities in the processing of many applications, and the Minister for Environmental Protection and Regional Development Artūrs Toms Plešs attempted to ease concerns about the load.

“What will remove an additional administrative burden will be a unified system from October 1. A digital solution so that forms can be completed and work will become easier," the minister said.

Municipal representatives are aware that the problem with heating compensation and claims for housing benefits is likely to be evident from October, starting with the adoption of applications. Until then, various technical specifications are possible in this process.

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