What is an energy cheque?
France’s chèques énergie (energy cheques) scheme is to help households below a certain income level to pay their utility bills. The cheques can be used to pay electricity bills, gas bills or for heating fuel.
How much money are we talking about?
Depending on your income, the amount can be between €48 to €277 per year.
Who benefits from the scheme?
Roughly 5.5 million people benefited from the scheme in 2020, but this number will increase in 2021 as the government has raised the income threshold by €100, from €10,700 to €10,800, in a decree published on January 24th.
Eligibility is calculated based on income and the number of people per household.
For this you need your Revenue fiscal de référence (RFR), this is your total taxable income and you can find your RFR on your annual tax declaration.
The RFR is then divided by the unité de consommation (UC) or energy consuming units, otherwise known as people living in the household.
One person equals 1 UC, the second 0.5 UC, the third 0.3 UC, and so on, which means the more people are in a household, the higher the income threshold for benefiting from the energy scheme gets (although the rise flattens out as more people are added, as the picture below shows).
Photo: French government
The amount given also increases the more people there are in the household. One person living alone with an RFR below €5,600 will get €194, while two people with the same RFR get €240.
Do I have to calculate this myself?
If all this sounds ridiculously complicated, don’t worry – you don’t actually need to do this maths yourself.
To see whether you are eligible for the scheme, go to the government’s simulator (HERE) and tap in you numéro fiscal (the number you use to log into your personal account to fill our your tax declaration).
It should be sent out automatically based on your annual tax declarations, but if you think you are eligible and have not received anything, you can find out more HERE.
When does the money come?
All households concerned receive their cheque by post sometime between March 29th and April 30th, depending on their département (see calendar HERE).
Is there a deadline to use the cheques?
Yes, but there is still time to use the cheques from 2020, which remain valid until March 31st.
For more information about this scheme, see the government’s website HERE.