Austria to offer extra €400 for heating costs to low income households
The Austrian government has agreed on additional aid to cushion high heating costs, with the payout being distributed by the provinces. Here's what we know so far.
Energy prices are up in Austria, with many choosing to postpone turning on the heating in order to save up at the end of the month. However, as temperatures drop, the government is now looking for ways to help low-income households pay for their heating.
The ÖVP-Greens coalition announced an additional aid earmarking €450 million for the program and leaving it up to the provinces to arrange the cash distribution, Austrian media reported.
The total amount will be transferred to the regions based on population to add to existing local subsidies. The federal aid would amount to between €200 to €400 extra per household, according to a statement from Finance Minister Magnus Brunner (ÖVP).
The heating subsidy is intended for lower-income families, minimum pensioners and welfare recipients. It will be available whether they heat with gas, electricity, pellets or another fuel.
As provinces will distribute the grant, the Ministers did not give further details on income criteria, nor did they provide an estimate of the payment date.
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Government is against a gas price brake
Minister Brunner mentioned that he does not believe in a gas price cap as an inflation-dampening measure for Austria, such as the one planned in Germany and demanded by opposition SPÖ in Austria.
"We have a different situation in Austria," said the Finance Minister. "In Austria, only about 25 percent of households heat with gas, in Germany about 50 percent."
Consequently, only a smaller circle would benefit from a gas price brake. In Carinthia, for example, only three percent of households. Instead, he defended that the heating cost subsidy would support all those who need it, regardless of the form of heating.