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What's new on 1 October?

If you want ro renovate your house to get a better energy score, you can apply for Flemish subsidies on a new website as from today: mijnverbouwpremie.be will serve as the new online platform for all kinds of applications linked to energy-saving actions. It's one of various changes on 1 October, which also include a new type of lane on our roads, good news for Brussels residents wanting to get a corona booster jab and possible extra subsidies for schools welcoming Ukrainian pupils. 

The new online platform replaces separate platforms for Flemish energy or renovation grants. "You can apply if you improve insulation in your roof, walls or floors, if you have new windows and doors installed or if you invest in sustainable heating or hot water systems", says Elleen Moons of the Flemish Energy and Climate Agency. The system does not include solar panels: it's Flemish grid operator Fluvius who remains responsible in this respect. 

You will have to prove your case with several documents, so it is important to keep those documents in a safe place. Sometimes you will also need a certicifate from the firm that carried out the energy-saving works. You can only go back two years in time. 

This means that you will have to foot the bill first in order to try and get some money back later. However, it is also possible to get an interest-free loan from the Flemish government ("Mijn verbouwlening") of up to 60,000 euros, but only under strict conditions. This option was introduced last month.  

The grants will vary according to your income and family situation. It will also make a difference if you own the place and whether you are living there or not. The Flemish government has earmarked a couple of million euros for the grants. 

October 2022 also heralds a whole range of other changes, such as: 

  • Motorists and cyclists can be confronted with a new type of lane on Belgian roads. The so-called single middle lane can be introduced on roads where there is not enough place for two cycle paths and two separate lanes for motorised traffic. Cars and motorbikes will have to share one central middle lane, which they can only leave in the case of oncoming traffic, but this without imposing a danger on possible cyclists. 
  • Schools that welcome more Ukrainian pupils (or other newcomers speaking a different language) can get extra subsidies. A new count of the exact number of pupils in a school is being staged early October. 
  • The social tariffs for energy prices are going up. Low electricity prices for low-income families will go up 7.8 percent, while the gas price will climb 9.9 percent. The price for natural gas will be 3.4 eurocent per kilowatt hour, which is still 7 to 10 times lower than the current energy prices that "normal" households have to cough up. About 2 million people are entitled to the social tariff, which has been introduced to portect vulnerable households or people subsisting on a living wage.  
  • Brussels adults can get a booster vaccine against corona this autumn without making an appointment. The autumn booster campaign started on 12 September. Four major hubs have been installed, at Pacheco, in Molenbeek, Sint-Pieters-Woluwe and Vorst. People wanting to get a jab can also go to more than 60 farmacists and local medical centres, while there are also mobile teams operating. 
  • House owners that have difficulties to pay the mortgage on their loan, can get a postponement of payment of up to 12 months. This is possible if they only have less than 10,000 euros left on their bank accounts, and if they don't have a bad record as debtors. During these months, they will not have to pay back capital, but they will have to pay the interest to their bank. Their mortgage term will be extended with a number of months depending on their postponement terms.  

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