The sending out of chèques énergie – financial aid from the French government to help pay energy bills – has been delayed.
The money is usually sent at the end of March or beginning of April to six million of the country’s lowest-income households.
But they will now be sent in May, reported Capital.
France’s ecology ministry said that the cheques would arrive “a few weeks later” than normal.
The energy cheques are usually sent department by department (as shown in this 2022 schedule for the exceptional second cheque last year) but the precise schedule for 2023 has not yet been published.
Why has the cheque been delayed?
The dedicated website (of the Agence de services et de paiement, which coordinates the cheques) says this year’s delay is due to an “exceptional workload”.
This has been partly caused by the extra energy cheques the government has rolled out this year due to soaring energy prices.
They include financial assistance to households that heat their homes with fuel oil and wood and a second, exceptional chèques énergie for eligible homes.
The latter was sent automatically to 12 million households, but the fuel oil and wood-heating cheques were not automatic. The first required applicants to request the cheque online before March 31, while the second is still accepting applications until April 30.
This has led the agency to be overwhelmed with requests, meaning it has taken the decision to delay the normal chèque énergie.
Who is eligible for the energy cheque?
To be eligible, you must have declared tax in France for the previous year.
The cheque is then usually sent automatically, once a year, to households whose declared and taxable income (revenu fiscal de référence, RFR) is less than €10,800 per unit (active household member).
How much is the energy cheque?
The amount depends on the household’s income and the number of people.
It varies from €48-€277, and the average payment is around €150. It can be used to help pay for energy, as well as any eco-friendly renovations, or unexpected household costs such as an accidentally unpaid bill or moving expenses.
Recipients of the cheque are also exempt from any set-up fees for new energy accounts if they move house, and from any penalty charges in case of non-payment of bills. From April 1, eligible households will also be better protected against power supply cuts, in case of an unpaid bill.
How long is it valid for?
The energy cheque is usually valid for 12 months, until March or April the year after it is issued. Because these cheques are being sent late, it is likely that the government will extend their validity until May 2024 (although this has not yet been confirmed).