Portugal: Parliament prohibits cuts in utilities for families unable to pay bills

Parliament has voted in favour of stopping cuts in water, electricity, gas and telecommunications supplies to families suffering from a drop in income due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

At issue is the strengthening of guarantees of access to essential goods such as electricity, gas, water and telecommunications if their bills are not paid, at a time when many families are facing total or partial falls in income and when an increase in consumption is expected due to home confinement.

The initiative prohibits the suspension of the provision of these services during the period of response to the epidemiological situation caused by the new coronavirus when there is a situation of unemployment or a 20% drop in household income compared to the previous month. 

During the term of this law, consumers who are unemployed or whose income has fallen by at least 20% compared to the previous month may “request the unilateral termination of telecommunications contracts” without compensation to the supplier.

It also includes a ban on the interruption of the domestic supply of these services and the charging of interest on arrears or other penalties for late payment of bills.