The Government is taking more measures to protect vulnerable groups and to avoid possible abuses during the state of alarm, as it is causing an economic slowdown due to restrictions on mobility and business activity.
In the Council of Ministers this Tuesday 31st March 2020, some of the measures adopted a little over a week ago have been expanded.
The Ministry of the Economy listened to the complaints made by consumer organisations and has decided to freeze telecommunication rates. The telecommunication companies won’t be able to apply rate increases to clients, since the clients don’t have the possibility of changing companies to avoid the increases. The telecommunication companies also won’t be able to raise prices for clients who have a type of temporary reduction or when an agreed term expires.
No power, gas, or water outages
The government has already banned cuts of essential supplies (electricity, natural gas, water and telecommunications) to vulnerable consumers for the duration of the state of alarm. Now it extends that suspension of essential supply cuts to all citizens in their habitual residence. Energy companies and telecommunications companies may only cut them for reasons of security of supply, people and facilities.
The Council of Ministers has also approved an expansion of the groups that can receive the social electricity bonus; a discount on the electricity bill of between 25% to 100% of the amount of the electricity bill for vulnerable consumers. The expansion of potential recipients will be applied on an exceptional and temporary basis only, for the duration of the state of alarm.
The Ministry for Ecological Transition from now on will allow the social bonus to people who meet certain thresholds of low family income and who prove to be affected by employment regulation records motivated by the state of alarm, as well as the self-employed. The threshold is applied when activity has ceased or their turnover has been reduced by 75% compared to the average of the previous period.
Self-employed may suspend the payment of electricity.
The Government has approved measures so that the self-employed and SMEs affected by the stoppage of activity can reduce part of their fixed costs, especially those linked to essential supplies. Self-employed and small businesses may suspend payment of their electricity and natural gas bills, or supplies of butane or propane, and pay them pro rata for six months after the end of the state of alarm.
Similarly, self-employed and SMEs will also be able to benefit from a flexible contracting of electricity and gas, and may temporarily modify or suspend their contracts without penalty, including the possibility of reducing the power and contracted amount. Once the state of alarm is over, they are once again allowed a new modification without cost or penalty to adjust to normal activity.
This information has been taken from articles published on the internet, compiled by Juan Antonio Rodríguez and translated by Bethan Trebilcock and David Fisher