Heating Costs in France for Low Income Households
Thursday 02 October 2008
Households living on a tight budget in France can get assistance with oil, electricity and gas heating costs. We review what is available.
If you use oil to heat or cook in your home, and you are living on a low income, then you may be entitled to a cash payment. The payment was introduced several years ago because of the rise in oil prices. Last year the amount was €150, but it has been increased this year to €200.
In order to be eligible your income must be below the level that would make you liable to pay income tax in France. You also need to have been purchased the oil between 1 July 2008 and 31 March 2009, and it is only available if the property is your main home.
To apply, you can either download the application form, or visit the local office of the Trésor Public or Centre d'impots, either of whom should have the form.
You will need to supply a copy of the oil bill, your bank details and your French income tax notice for 2007 (not 2008). The payment will be made directly into your bank account.
Whether or not you use electricity to heat your home, if you are on a low income, you are entitled to a reduced electricity charges.
There is a special tariff for those on a low income, called the Tarif de Première Nécessité, which is available to those whose income would make them also eligible for free healthcare in France through the Couverture Maladie Universelle Complémentaire (CMUC).
The maximum annual income threshold to be eligible depends on household size, as follows:
Table: Income Thresholds - (Jul 08 - Jul 09)
If you meet the income criteria, then you can receive a percentage reduction on the normal tariff. A one person household would receive a 30% reduction, whilst it is 40% for two or three people, and 50% if there are four or more people in the household.
The abatement applies both to the monthly standing charges, as well as the consumption of electricity, up to a maximum of 100kWh per month.
If you are in receipt of CMUC, then your Caisse Maladie will communicate this information to EDF, the electricity provider, who will send you forms to complete. If you are not in receipt of CMUC,then you should contact your local EDF office, or ring freephone 0800 333 123.
Those who have an annual contract for mains gas in their home for heating and/or cooking are also entitled to assistance with their costs, although on less generous terms than those for electricity.
Once again, the assistance is available to those whose annual income does not exceed CMUC thresholds, as outlined above.
The amount of the assistance is around €80 a year for a couple, although even this sum may be reduced if there are other forms of heating in the property!
For more information you should ring freephone 0800 333 124.
Expats from the UK of pensionable age may also be eligible to receive the Winter Fuel Payment from the UK Pensions Service. You need to have been eligible to receive the payment before you left the UK. If you were eligible in the UK, but did not apply, you can still make application to the UK Pensions Office. The amount of the allowance has been increased this year to £250.
Whether or not you are entitled to assistance with energy costs, there is no means testing to obtain access to a tax credit/cash allowance for home energy conservation works.
As we outlined in our last Newsletter, next year there will also be interest free mortgages for energy conservation, about which we shall be publishing further information in due course.