French MPs have voted in favour of new financial aid to help households that are still heating their homes with oil, as part of new measures to improve the public’s purchasing power.
The €230million package is set to help households affected by inflation, as part of the budget for 2022.
A total of 3.5 million households still use oil to heat their homes in France.
Opposition MPs voted the package through, despite some having called for a more targeted amount of €50million in aid.
The amendment was voted by 164 votes to 153.
MP for Orne Jérôme Nury stressed the "urgency of the situation", including for the "middle classes", pleading for "temporary and exceptional aid", and said that "part of this Parliament does not realise the social emergency situation regarding fuel oil".
Socialist Claudia Rouaux said there were "a lot of families struggling to fill their tanks", and had been forced to spread out payments of hundreds of euros over 10 payments or more.
Criticism: ‘Not precise enough’
However, ruling party (LREM) MP Mathieu Lefèvre said that "fuel oil" is an "obvious subject" for Parliament to discuss ahead of the coming winter, but criticised the measure, saying that the issue "cannot be dealt with on the fly with a €230million amendment for which we do not know the criteria".
He said that the new amendment was “not precise” enough to deal with the problem.
Similarly, Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire had already criticised Parliament’s decision at the weekend to allocate €120million in funding to departments in order to pay for increases to the RSA, as a result of inflation.
He said: “I am stunned that MPs who usually speak about the ‘recovery of public finances’ would commit to such [massive] public spending.”
Oil heating banned
The installation of new oil-powered heating boilers has been banned in France since January 1 this year, due to being more costly and polluting than other methods. It is only allowed if there is truly no other means available to heat a home (such as no way to ensure gas or electricity access).
Oil heating is generally used more in rural areas. The government has set an objective to replace all oil-fuelled boilers by 2028.
On average, heating a home with oil costs almost twice as much as heating with wood, gas and even electricity.