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MONEY

Cost of living in Austria: 2021 inflation at highest level in a decade

New figures from Statistics Austria show the consumer price index in Austria rose to 2.8 percent in 2021 - twice as high as in 2020.

Woman shopping
How much more expensive have the items in your shopping basket got? Photo: Anna Shvets/Pexels

Last year, the average cost of living in Austria increased by 2.8 percent, driven by price hikes in transport, household energy, restaurants and hotels.

This is above the two percent target rate of annual inflation set by the European Central Bank but below the 2021 inflation rate in neighbouring Germany which increased to 3.2 percent.

The rate in Austria also fluctuated throughout 2021, starting at 0.8 percent in January and ending at 4.3 percent in December. The average rate of inflation across Europe in December was 3.8 percent.  

READ ALSO: Everything that changes about life in Austria in 2022

Tobias Thomas, Director General at Statistics Austria, said: “In 2021, the inflation rate doubled to 2.8 percent compared to the previous year, the highest level in ten years. 

“Inflation was fuelled by sharp increases in fuel and household energy prices – without them the inflation rate would have been 1.8. 

“The background is not least the crude oil prices on the world markets, which increased by more than 50 percent last year.” 

The 2021 report by Statistics Austria shows transport costs in Austria increased by an average of 6.6 percent. This was the primary driver in the overall increase in cost of living due to a 17.3 percent rise in the price of fuel. 

Additionally, the cost of flight tickets rose by 8.3 percent, repairs for private transport rose by four percent, the cost of new cars by 3.2 percent and used cars by 3.7 percent.

Housing, water and energy costs jumped by 3.6 percent last year making it the second biggest driver in rising prices in Austria. The main reason was a 7.7 percent increase in the cost of household energy, but other factors include housing maintenance (+4.4 percent), materials (+4.7 percent) and rent (+2 percent).

READ MORE: TV licence fees are about to get more expensive in Austria

This was followed by the cost of restaurants and hotels, which rose by 3.4 percent. In restaurants, the price of a Schnitzel increased by 4.6 percent in 2021, and vegetarian dishes went up by 5.8 percent.

Alcoholic beverages and tobacco products were 2.4 percent more expensive in Austria in 2021.

Did anything get cheaper in Austria in 2021?

Fortunately, there is some good news to come out of the Statistics Austria report which shows a few items did get cheaper last year.

Messaging (text messages) was 2.9 percent cheaper in 2021, and the price of telephone and fax services dropped by 2.8 percent.

Fish cost 2.7 percent less in 2021 and the overall rate of inflation for food and non-alcoholic drinks was just 0.8 percent. In 2020, the average price of food and non-alcoholic drinks rose by 2.3 percent.

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MONEY

EXPLAINED: How to get your €500 Kurzarbeit bonus in Austria

People who have been in short-term work for an extended period over the pandemic are entitled to a one-off bonus in Austria. Here's how you can get it.

EXPLAINED: How to get your €500 Kurzarbeit bonus in Austria

During most of the coronavirus pandemic, many people went on Kurzarbeit, a short-term work scheme aimed at saving jobs in Austria – similar models were adopted in other countries, including Germany.

While it did help keep unemployment at bay, with companies getting financial assistance from the government in exchange for keeping their workforce, the employees had to cut back on their hours and receive lower pay for, sometimes, months on end.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to claim your €150 energy discount in Austria

Until the end of the year, the federal government is issuing a one-off €500 bonus payment for certain professions and those who have stayed in Kurzarbeit for a long time.

The bonus is personal and individual, so people need to apply for it themselves, and the money is sent directly to their bank account.

Who is entitled to the €500 bonus?

In order to be entitled to receive the payment, the person must have been in Kurzarbeit during December 2021 and additionally for at least ten months during the period between March 1st 2020 and November 30th 2021.

The social security contribution base in December 2021 should not be higher than €2,775.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to claim your 100 euro vaccination bonus in Austria

The workers (or apprentices) need to be in sectors that were particularly affected by the coronavirus crisis. This includes gastronomy, hotel industry, aviation, sports and leisure, cultural institutions, etc.

People who work in Austria but have a residence abroad are also entitled. However, at least until June 2022, the applications need to be made using the online government tools of HandySignatur, ID Austria or Bürgerkarte.

kurzarbeit bonus

A screenshot of the online form to apply for the bonus 

How do I apply for it?

The application is made online through the Federal Accounting Agency (Buchhaltungsagentur des Bundes).

The website is www.meinesv.at/kua500, and you need to be logged in with your HandySignatur, ID Austria or Bürgerkarte.

It will tell you immediately if you are not entitled to the bonus, so you can just log in and check. The information to be filled in includes contact data and the bank account for payment.

Applications for the bonus can be made until December 31st.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to claim your €200 voucher for electronics repair in Austria

Why do I only get the bonus if I was in short-time work in December 2021?

According to the official website, the government assumes that employees who did not have to go on Kurzarbeit during the lockdown in November and December 2021 “will also be less often in short-time work in the coming months”.

“When determining the provisions on the long-term short-time work bonus, the social partners, including the legal representation of the interests of employees, were significantly involved”.

Where can I get further information?

Besides the online resources, the government has published a hotline available on weekdays from 8am to 4pm: +43 1 71123 884468.

Useful vocabulary

Short-time work – Kurzarbeit
Long-term – Langzeit
Loss of income – Einkommensverlust
To apply – beantragen

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