Starting on Monday, applications for the energy price compensation subsidies were opened in Tallinn and the first day of applying saw city government websites crashing due to increased traffic. Tallinn deputy mayor Betina Beškina said the city hopes to hire more employees to work the application process.
Beškina told ERR that the city estimates some 50,000 households to apply for the energy price compensation support measure. "Of course, the number of applicants is often lower than we forecast. There are people that never apply for anything and want to manage on their own," the deputy mayor said.
The electronic form is available on the city government's website (link in Estonian), but it is also possible to register an appointment at the social welfare department of the district administration, where a member of staff will assist the applicant in submitting their application
The city expects most of the applications to be presented online. The first four hours of applying saw 500 applications entered. "We want people to pre-register when going to district administrations," Beškina said.
Phone lines (600 6300) were opened for booking time slots last week and the deputy mayor said some city districts have already been fully booked up for January.
Depending on the city district, appointment times can also vary. For example, appointments can be made in Mustamäe from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, after which the district administration will take a break for an hour and then return to accept applications until 4 p.m.
Nõmme city district administration announced that they will accept applications on paper on three days a week. The administration will accept applications from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays, to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and to 5 p.m. on Thursdays.
"We must take into consideration that the social sector is very large and there are many questions and issues. This is just one part of it. While it is a very actual and painful part, other social work must also be finished. And we certainly do not have endless resources to be used," Beškina said.
She added that the city has hired 15 additional employees for the application period, 13 of which are working in district administrations and two man the phones. "The people working the phones cannot take breaks, because there are so many calls. We are looking for more people there," the deputy mayor said.
Beškina said the city initially conducted a smaller hiring process, because public funds must be spent wisely and people cannot be hired just in case. "The state covers our costs according to the actual number of applications. So we had to conduct an estimation of who presents applications. This is taking a risk and even more complicated math. But we can see that we require more resources," the deputy mayor added.
The energy subsidy is paid to individuals or families whose average net income is below the median wage in 2021. In 2022, this will be €1,126 for a person living alone, €1,689 for a household of two adults and €2,365 for a family of two adults and two children under 14.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste