Here's how the 2020 electricity and gas allowance works

The electricity social allowance and the gas social allowance are bill discounts introduced by the Government and made operational by the Autorità di Regolazione per Energia Reti e Ambiente with the collaboration of the Municipalities (TIBEG 402/2013/R/com and smi). These measures aim to help families with very low incomes or caring for people with serious health problems (physical hardship), who rely on medical equipment powered by electricity.

The electricity and gas allowance has completely changed in 2021. In 2020 you had to submit a specific application to your municipality of residence or to a Tax Assistance Centre (CAF), meeting the specific application requirements, but from this year you don't have to submit an application. You just need your ISEE and a bill identification to simplify the procedure. Let's clarify that, as in 2020, the procedure for getting electricity and gas allowance for phisical hardship is the same.

2020 Electricity social allowance: eligibility criteria

The 2020 electricity social allowance can be requested by domestic customers with an electricity supply contract meeting at least one of the following requirements:

  • ISEE up to € 8,265
  • ISEE up to € 20,000 for large families (at least four dependent children)
  • Seriously ill people forced to use electrical medical equipment (electro-medical), which is deemed indispensable for keeping them alive

2020 Electricity social allowance: value and application procedure

The value of the 2020 electricity social allowance depends on the number of family members: € 125 for up to two members, € 148 for up to four members, and € 173 over four members. As the electricity allowance is a discount, it is applied directly on the bill albeit not on a lump-sum basis. Instead, it is deducted on each electricity bills issued over the 12 months of validity of the allowance. Following this 12-month period, eligible customers must file another application for the subsequent year.

The electricity allowance is paid both to customers who have subscribed to an offer on the free energy market and to those under an enhanced protection service. Moreover, the allowance will automatically be recognised on the new bill when switching suppliers. Thus, the allowance applies no matter what supplier you favour.

2020 Gas social allowance: eligibility criteria

The gas allowance is a discount on the bill reserved for families in situations of economic hardship. The ISEE thresholds for receiving the gas allowance are the same as for the electricity allowance:

  • ISEE up to € 8,265
  • ISEE up to € 20,000 for large families (at least four dependent children)

Important clarification: you may not ask for the social gas allowance when using natural gas or LPG in cylinders, but you must be connected to the city gas network.

2020 gas social allowance: value

The value of the 2020 gas social allowance is linked to various factors including the number of family members. The family members criterion provides for two thresholds: from 1 to 4 people and over 4 people. A second factor that determines the value the gas social allowance is the municipality of residence. For example, those living in Bolzano receive a higher allowance than those living in Palermo, because the former's heating needs are higher. The last factor to consider for the calculation of the 2020 gas allowance is the intended use of the gas supply: the allowance value varies depending on whether you use only domestic hot water or heating too.

With these data, you can figure out the value of the gas 2020 social allowance using a special calculator on the ARERA website.

How applications of the 2020 gas allowance were: direct and indirect customers

One key concept to understand about the 2020 gas allowance is the distinction between direct and indirect customers.

  • Direct customers: own the natural gas supply for their homes. The holder must be a natural person and only the holder can claim the allowance
  • Indirect customers: use a natural gas system at a condominium but do not own the supply. In this case, only the holder of the centralised supply can request the allowance.

The direct allowance is paid to direct customers in monthly instalments over the 12 months following the acceptance of the application. On the other hand, indirect customers are paid by bank transfer on a lump-sum basis. To be precise, this is a "postal transfer": customers must go to the Post Office with an identity document and the tax code to collect the allowance.

The gas allowance is always valid for 12 months, at the end of which the application must be renewed to request the allowance for the following year.

2020 electricity allowance for physical hardship: eligibility criteria

The electricity allowance for physical hardship is not related to ISEE but to the use of specific, life-saving medical equipment, also referred to as electromedical equipment. For example, haemodialysis devices, electric wheelchairs but also mobile lifters and many other machines the operation of which demands a high electricity consumption.

The application for the electricity allowance for physical hardship must be submitted to the Municipality or to an entity designated by the Municipality (CAF or Mountain Communities). Application forms for the electricity allowance for physical hardship can be downloaded from the ARERA site, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, Networks and the Environment, or from SGAte (the information system that manages applications and checks the requirements for allowance payment) and the Municipalities.

2020 electricity allowance for physical hardship: value and application procedure

For physical hardship, the value of the electricity allowance depends on the annual consumption of the equipment and on the possible need to request an increase in meter power from the supplier. For 2020, the electricity allowance for physical hardship varies from a minimum of € 185 to a maximum of e 663.

Unlike the economic hardship or social allowance, the physical hardship allowance does not have to be renewed every year. This electricity allowance is also deducted from the bills over the 12 months in which the customer benefits therefrom.