Austria reintroduced its energy bonus to help households with increased energy and housing costs. Find out who is eligible and how to apply.
Vienna’s Finanzstadtrat Peter Hanke and Sozialstadtrat Peter Hacker have announced the reintroduction of the Energiebonus or energy bonus, an initiative to support households with increasing energy and housing costs. The bonus will provide €200 per household, and it is expected that around two-thirds of households will be eligible for the financial assistance.
First launched in 2022, the Energiebonus provided financial aid to 585,800 households, with a total payout of €116.5 million. To be eligible for the bonus, single-person households must have a gross annual income of up to €40,000, while multi-person households can earn up to €100,000 per year.
For those who received the bonus in 2022, which is possible until March 25, 2023, a new application may not be necessary if no significant changes have occurred in their data. The eligible households will be informed via mail if they will be automatically granted the bonus. About 90% of households are expected to receive the bonus automatically.
For the remaining 10% of eligible households, they will receive a letter informing them that they can still apply for the bonus. The payment for 2023 will begin in April, with a total budget of €130 million. The majority of the funds, €96 million, comes from the federal government, while the city of Vienna will contribute the remaining €34 million.
Sozialstadtrat Peter Hacker expressed his disapproval of the rising housing costs, stating that renting a house requires minimal energy and the corresponding costs should be covered by operating expenses, not rent. He called on the federal government to address the issue.
The increase in gas prices, resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has caused prices for district heating, which is produced using natural gas, to rise in Vienna. However, Hanke is optimistic that the recent price drops in the gas market will reduce the burden on households in the upcoming heating season.
Green Party leader Judith Pühringer has called on the city to initiate a new Energiekostenpauschale or energy cost flat rate, a direct payment of €200 to low-income individuals who receive minimum income support or housing aid. Pühringer stated that Vienna should not rely solely on the federal government’s financial support.
Dominik Nepp, the leader of the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), called for a freeze on rents and no further increases in public housing. “For a willing SPÖ, this would be a mere formality on paper, which would ease people’s concerns about how they will continue to pay their rent,” Nepp said in a statement.
Vienna‘s Energiebonus is just one of many initiatives that cities and governments worldwide are implementing to help alleviate the financial burden on low-income households. These initiatives are particularly essential amid the ongoing global pandemic, which has led to economic instability and rising unemployment rates.