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Over 300,000 poverty-hit German homes have power cut off each year

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Over 300,000 poverty-hit German homes have power cut off each year
Photo: DPA
11:46 CET+01:00
Each year between 2011 and 2015, electricity providers cut off power to at least 300,000 German households who could no longer afford to pay their bills, the government revealed on Thursday.

The number of houses which could not afford electricity payments varied between 312,000 and 352,000. The power cut-offs were normally due to poverty, with people on state welfare very often affected.

Meanwhile in 2015, 44,000 households had their gas supply cut off.

The government announcement - in response to a parliamentary question by Die Linke (the Left Party) - also revealed that between 15.7 percent and 16.7 percent of people in Germany are threatened with poverty.

“Energy poverty in Germany is a silent catastrophe for millions of people, especially in the cold, dark winter months,” said Eva Bulling-Schröter, energy spokeswoman for Die Linke.

While Germany is selling more electricity than ever before to other European countries, the government is turning a blind eye to the poor within its own borders who can’t afford their power bills, Bulling-Schröter said.

“Many people are ashamed of the fact they can’t pay their bills. They are stigmatized and withdraw from society after their electricity has been cut, which is particularly damaging to children.”

The left-wing politician called for the government to change the law to ensure that children, the elderly and the sick are protected from energy cut-offs, calling electricity a “basic necessity of public services.”

Electricity bills went up by an average of 3.5 percent in January, meaning that households will be paying an average €50 more in 2017 than they paid last year.

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