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Highway code, mortgage deferral, betting agencies: everything that changes from October 1

  • Post category:Economy News
  • Reading time:6 mins read

Social tariffs for electricity and gas increase again

Social tariffs for electricity and natural gas will increase from October 1, by an average of 7.8% for electricity and 9.9% for natural gas. This is a slightly higher increase than that recorded in July.

The single electricity rate will be 26.510 cents per kilowatt hour (VAT included), compared to 24.613 currently. For natural gas, the social tariff will be 3.4 cents per kWh (also including VAT), whereas it is currently 3.093 cents.

The social rate is a reduced rate reserved for certain categories of people or households, such as those entitled to integration income, tenants of social housing or beneficiaries of the income guarantee for the elderly (Grapa) . It is the same for all energy suppliers and is set every three months by the Electricity and Gas Regulatory Commission (Creg).

The federal regulator stresses that the increase in social tariffs is capped. “In the absence of these, the price increases would have been on average 41% for electricity and 276% for natural gas”, assures the Creg.

Betting agencies required to register the identity of players

From October 1, betting agencies will have to register the identity of their customers and check that they are not on the list of people prohibited from gambling (EPIS list).

This measure, taken by the Minister of Justice Vincent Van Quickenborne (Open VLD), aims to better protect minors and vulnerable people from the devastating effects of gambling addiction.

In addition, the minister demanded a spending limit for online games of chance, set at 200 euros per week. The royal decree published to this effect on July 20 will enter into force on October 20. The player who wishes can nevertheless “jump” this ceiling. He will then have to make the request electronically to his gaming operator who will notify the request to the Gaming Commission (CJH). Within 3 days, it will check whether the player is not on the list of bad payers of the Central Individual Credit Center (National Bank of Belgium).

Modification of certain rules of the highway code

The highway code will be modified on October 1st. It will welcome some new features while several already existing rules will be adapted.

A new sign will indicate that only bicycles can park in the area between 7.30 a.m. and 6 p.m. but that motorists will be able to park there in the evening. Parking a car in the zone outside the defined time slots will result in a fine of 58 euros.

The sign prohibiting the use of “cruise control” will disappear due to its obsolescence with regard to the evolution of speed regulators, which have become more intelligent.

Regarding bicycles, speed pedelecs will be able to travel on shared sidewalks along roads limited to 50 km/h and will be required to use the cycle path on roads above this limit. Two new kinds of bicycles will also appear: the velomobile (bicycle equipped with a fairing, editor’s note) and the recumbent bicycle.

The code will finally allow authorities to create center-lane roadways. If a carriageway is not wide enough to accommodate a cycle lane in each direction and the layout is suitable, the central lane carriageway will reserve a single lane for motorized vehicles in the central lane. On either side, a secure area will be reserved for cyclists.

Brussels residents aged 18 and over can receive their autumn booster against Covid-19

From October 1, Brussels residents over the age of 18 can benefit from a second booster injection of anti-Covid serum as part of the autumn vaccination campaign set up in the capital.

This campaign began on Monday 12 September, initially targeting citizens over 50 before being extended to all Brussels residents over 18.

Mobile teams and local vaccination points near pharmacies are in charge of these booster doses. The four vaccination centers are located in Forest, Molenbeek, Pacheco and Woluwé-Saint-Pierre.

The vaccine used for the fall booster dose is Pfizer’s variant formulation adapted to Omicron BA.1.

This second booster dose is not compulsory, but it is recommended for groups of vulnerable people, including the elderly or those with comorbidities.

The number of infections in Brussels has increased slightly in recent days to 1,013 between September 13 and September 19, an increase of 9% compared to the previous reference period. The positivity rate stands at 13.9%, below the national average (19.6%). Authorities expect the number of infections to peak in mid-October.

A deferral of payment of real estate loans accepted under conditions

From October 1, due to the continuous rise in energy prices, banks will allow a general postponement of mortgage loan payments for individuals, subject to conditions. This payment deferral can be requested during the period from October 1, 2022 to March 31, 2023 inclusive.

Concretely, the deferral of payment of a mortgage implies, for eligible persons, that they will not have to make a capital repayment for 12 months. However, interest will remain due. The duration of the credit will then be extended by the deferral period granted. The banks undertake not to charge the usual application or administrative fees.

To be able to benefit from it, the mortgage must have been contracted for the main place of residence of the borrowers in Belgium (at the time of the request for payment deferral) and the total of the movable assets on all the accounts (savings, sight and investment portfolio) must not exceed 10,000 euros. The borrower applying for the deferral must not have any deferment of payment registered as of March 1 and must benefit from a repayment plan in progress or requested from his energy supplier.

For companies, the banking sector has undertaken to “search with them for the most suitable tailor-made solution”.

The federal government had called on the banking sector to support individuals and businesses in this context of rising prices.