Who will get Sweden’s electricity subsidy and when will it be paid out?

Energy users in the south of Sweden were promised an electricity price subsidy by November 1st by Sweden's right-wing government during the election campaign. When will it be paid out, and who will benefit?

Who will get Sweden's electricity subsidy and when will it be paid out?
Ulf Kristersson meets with Joel Lindqvist, owner of Mat- och Chokladstudion, on September 1st. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

What is the electricity price subsidy?

The electricity price subsidy (elprisstöd in Swedish), is a one-time payment paid out to electricity users in southern Sweden based on energy usage over the last year.

Here’s some more information on the subsidy and who is eligible.

How does it differ from what the right-wing bloc originally proposed?

The right-wing bloc originally proposed a system of högkostnadsskydd or “high-cost protection”, designed to cover an unspecified amount of households’ energy costs above a certain limit.

This was rejected in favour of the current model, which was originally proposed by the outgoing Social Democrat government prior to the election, as the right-wing government believed its high-cost protection model would take too long to implement.

The government chose therefore to use the Social Democrats’ model which was already in progress rather than to start the process again and potentially cause further delays.

When will it be paid out?

Despite election promises to pay out the subsidy by November 1st, so it was available to households “in good time before Christmas”, social insurance minister Anna Tenje announced in a press conference on November 30th that the subsidy would first be available to households in February 2023, four months later than originally promised.

“The payments will begin in February if nothing unexpected happens,” she said. 

What about business owners?

Energy and business minister Ebba Busch, who was also at the press conference on November 30th, explained that payouts will occur in two stages.

“The first step will be payments to households. The second stage will be payments to businesses, and that question is still being decided,” energy and business minister Ebba Busch said. 

This means that business owners with high energy costs will have to wait even longer for a financial payout, despite Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson promising bakery and café owner Joel Lindqvist that it would be available “before Christmas” during election campaigning in Malmö.

Ministers Ebba Busch and Anna Tenje (centre) at a press conference on high-cost protection for energy prices, joined by Social Security Agency general director Nils Öberg and Swedish National Grid acting general director Peter Wigert. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT
Ulf Kristersson meets with Joel Lindqvist, owner of Mat- och Chokladstudion, on September 1st. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

How could this affect businesses?

Lindqvist told TT newswire on November 18th when it was announced that the subsidy would be delayed that it was “really disappointing news”.

“I hope I’m not going to have to fire people. For me, it means more work and harder work.”

He was, however, happy that the government are offering support, albeit later than promised.

“Just look at how long the Corona subsidy took. And I’m happy a subsidy is on it’s way, but it would have been so much better if it was in place before Christmas.”

“You just have to work harder, hope there aren’t more delays and that it stays windy.”

What will happen if energy prices are high in 2023?

It’s not yet clear – the government’s electricity price subsidy is based on usage between October 2021 and September 2022 and will be paid out to whoever was listed on the energy network agreement (elnätsavtal) on November 17th.

Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson has stated that he considers the current model to be “fair”, but did not comment on what could happen in 2023.

“We’ll have to see what happens in 2023,” he told TT newswire. “There’s a substantial risk that there will be high costs in 2023 as well.”

However, he stopped short of promising any new subsidy for next year.

“I’m going to let what happens in the future remain unsaid,” he told the newswire.

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Politics in Sweden: Six things we learned from a new interview with the migration minister

The Local's editor has listened to a new interview with the Swedish migration minister, the Social Democrats now know what went wrong in the last election, and the key interest rate decision you need to keep an eye on this week. That and much more in this week's Politics in Sweden column.

Politics in Sweden: Six things we learned from a new interview with the migration minister

Swedish Migration Minister Maria Malmer Stenergard gave a long interview to public radio broadcaster Sveriges Radio Ekot’s Saturday interview show.

She spoke among other things about the many planned migration law changes proposed in the Tidö Agreement, the deal that allowed the Moderates and Christian Democrats to form a right-wing government with the controversial support of the far-right Sweden Democrats.

Here’s a roundup of some of the things that emerged from the interview (or didn’t emerge – there were several issues that she didn’t want to go into specifics on):

1. Asked by interviewer Johar Bendjelloul whether she felt she had been appointed to carry out the far-right Sweden Democrats’ migration policy, she said no, her job is to carry out what “the government and its collaboration parties, including the Sweden Democrats, have agreed”.

But she also conceded that the Sweden Democrats’ influence on the policies was significant.

2. The government and the Sweden Democrats are working on launching an inquiry that will look into whether or not to make it mandatory for Swedish authorities in general to report to the police and Migration Agency when they encounter someone in Sweden without the proper permits.

This has raised concern among for example teachers and hospital workers that they will have to act as informants and be unable to protect their students and patients. People without permits still have the right to urgent healthcare or, in the case of children, school.

Malmer Stenergard, when pressed on the issue, said that one-off exceptions could be made on compassionate grounds, for example in the case of healthcare staff. However, she said such exceptions would have to be investigated and that she preferred to await the inquiry before commenting on the specific details.

3. The government and the Sweden Democrats want to phase out the institution of permanent residence permits, but the bid that has caused the greatest concern would abolish some permanent permits that have already been handed out, instead replacing them with temporary permits.

But the move applies only to people who hold asylum-related permits, Malmer Stenergard reiterated. When pushed, she guaranteed several times that foreign residents who already hold permanent residence permits that are not related to asylum would not be affected.

She said she was “troubled” to hear that many people are worried that their permanent residency will be revoked, because “people who are living here in an honest way and are trying to learn Swedish, be self-sufficient and do everything they can to become a part of society, those people shouldn’t have to feel worried. If I’ve communicated in a way that’s caused that worry, I should think about how I communicate in the future.”

As regards to what would happen to people who are affected by the suggested changes to permanent residence permits, she said “First and foremost we will try to find a route for them to become citizens. In other cases we will look at what should happen to those who have permanent [permits], if they should be turned into temporary [permits].”

Again, she did not want to speak about specifics before there’s been an inquiry. Many lawyers have speculated that it will not even be possible to revoke permanent permits, due to Swedish administrative law stating that when a decision from authorities favours the individual, that decision can never be changed.

Malmer Stenergard said it would be up to the soon-to-be-launched inquiry to investigate those possibilities.

4. She said that the government was looking into how it could best help Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees, including potentially making it possible for Ukrainian refugees to study Swedish for Immigrants (SFI). Currently, all that’s offered to them is a course called Swedish From Day One, which isn’t offered in all Swedish municipalities.

5. She said that the government was “constantly” evaluating the benefits of the 71 kronor ($6.74 according to today’s exchange rate) per day which are handed to asylum seekers to buy food, clothes and hygiene items. The sum, which is difficult to live on in Sweden today, has remained the same since 1994 – even as costs have risen – and has become the topic of debate following the arrival of thousands of Ukrainian refugees. However, she refused to say anything for sure.

6. Mikael Ribbenvik’s contract as director-general of the Migration Agency is set to expire in June. He has said he would like for it to be extended, but when asked, Malmer Stenergard only said that she was in “close dialogue” with him and that what was being said would remain between them until she is ready to announce a decision.

In other news

The centre-left Social Democrats, who have been in opposition since Sweden’s September election, soar to 36.7 percent in a new poll-of-polls by Kantar Sifo on behalf of public radio broadcaster Sveriges Radio Ekot. They got 30.33 percent in the election.

Together with its left-wing allies the party gets 54.0 percent, almost ten percentage points more than the ruling Moderates and its allies. The Moderates themselves climb to 18.8 percent, overtaking the far-right Sweden Democrats who drop to 18.0 percent.

There’s an easy explanation. Much of the public debate is currently focused on the economy, an area where, the CEO of Kantar Sifo told Ekot, the Social Democrats – and their decades of experience running Swedish finances – usually enjoy strong confidence, even among voters who usually vote conservative. It probably also helps that their current leader is former Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson.

The Social Democrats last week presented their analysis of the party’s performance in the September election. The party increased its votes in the election, but due to the poorer performance of its left-wing allies, it lost the government to the right wing.

The analysis expresses concern over its conclusion that the main reason behind the party’s growth was the popularity of party leader Magdalena Andersson, rather than its policies. It says, however, that it aims to reach the support of at least 40 percent of voters in the future. Here’s a link to the full analysis, in Swedish.

The Centre Party has a new leader. Muharrem Demirok at a party conference last week formally took over from Annie Lööf. You can read more about Demirok in this article by The Local, or by listening to the latest episode of our Sweden in Focus podcast.

And some government proposals that aren’t to do with migration: Business and Energy Minister Ebba Busch on Sunday promised to speed up permit approvals for sea-based wind power, which she in an interview with public broadcaster SVT’s news show Agenda called “one of our most important election pledges”.

What’s next?

Put February 9th in your diary. That’s when the Swedish Central Bank, under the new leadership of Erik Thedéen, will announce its latest decision on the interest rate. The bank is widely expected to raise the interest rate by another 0.5 percentage points. We’ll cover the announcement on The Local when it comes.