What’s new on 1 August?

1 August heralds a number of interesting changes.  Parents of school children will receive their school allowance automatically, while a new grant becomes available for people buying a home battery. On the other hand gambling is being discouraged.

Starting 1 August you will have to be at least 18 to operate a gambling machine in a pub.  To play you will have to legitimise yourself by inserting your ID card. What people from countries that don’t issue such cards will do, is unclear. In future cafés and pubs will only be allowed to operate four gambling machines at most.

September is an expensive month for parents.  To help out the Flemish authorities are providing parents with an extra allowance: the school allowance. The school allowance replaces the old school grant and forms part of the so called “growth package”, child allowance to you and me.  It will be paid to parents of children in Flemish kindergartens, primary and secondary schools as well as students working for a degree in vocational education. In future you will receive this allowance automatically. Parents no longer have to make an application. The allowance will be paid to the parents of under-19s in September or October.  If you have children over 18 expect payment from the end of October until the end of December.

Attention: applications for allowances for children in higher education still have to be made!

Starting 1 August public sector workers will be able to choose to take one day of parental leave every two weeks or a half a day a week. This has been possible for private sector workers since last June.

A decision has been taken not to increase the social energy tariff.  This is a lower tariff available to people on minimum subsistence benefit, on invalidity allowance or seniors with the minimum income guarantee. Electricity prices have rocketed but social services intervened to stop the government from passing on the price rise.

Starting 1 August people installing a home battery can apply for a new grant.  Such batteries are interesting for people with solar panels as they allow them to store energy generated during the day. Home batteries can cost up to 10,000 euros.  The Flemish authorities are providing a grant of up to 3,200 euros.