SPANISH Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez on Thursday announced more measures aimed at easing the burden of energy bills, a move that is due to benefit 40% of Spain’s households.
The latest package of assistance will cost some €3 billion and is destined for large families or those in a vulnerable situation, as well as apartment blocks that have a community heating system.
Speaking today in the Congress of Deputies, Spain’s lower house of parliament, the Socialist Party leader said that the measures would be approved at next Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting.
Energy prices in Spain, as in other European countries, have spiked since the Russian invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.
The measures will include a new regulated energy tariff for such buildings with a common heating system, via a limit on quarterly price increases.
This, according to the government’s figures, will allow 1.7 million households in Spain to reduce their energy bills by more than half of what they would pay under the current conditions.
The prime minister also announced a larger discount for beneficiaries of the existing energy benefits for vulnerable families, increasing the percentages to 60% and 65%, respectively, for vulnerable and highly vulnerable households, according to figures cited by Spanish news agency EFE.
What’s more, the Cabinet is due to approve a discount of 40% on energy bills for working low-income households, a measure that, the government says, will benefit some 1.5 million families.
“Spain is today, thanks to the efforts of the government, the most-credible European country in terms of proposals that allow for the cushioning of the effects of [Vladimir] Putin’s energy crisis,” Sánchez stated in Congress.
The latest announcements by the Socialist Party-led government come on the back of a series of earlier measures.
In April, the government introduced a €0.20 discount on each litre of petrol and diesel.
What’s more, VAT on energy bills was reduced from 10% to 5%. The price of butane gas canisters was frozen at €19.95 until the end of the year, while a windfall tax will be levied on energy companies both this year and the next.
In reaction to today’s announcements, the spokesperson for the main opposition Popular Party (PP), Cuca Gamarra, was highly critical of the plans. “As prime minister, are you going to leave a better country than the one you found?” she asked. “On the basis of this, the answer is no.”
Meanwhile, the leader of far-right Vox, Santiago Abascal, accused the central government of wanting to get out of the crisis “by handing out scraps and subsidies to citizens whose future you have already stolen.”