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Eurofound's COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the crisis, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for case AT-2020-16/577 Updated – measures in Austria

COVID-19 family hardship fund and family crisis fund

Corona-Familienhärtefonds und Familienkrisenfonds

Country Austria , applies nationwide
Time period Temporary, started on 15 April 2020
Type Legislations or other statutory regulations
Category Measures to prevent social hardship
– Protection of vulnerable groups (beyond employment support)
Author Bernadette Allinger (Forba) and Eurofound
Case created 13 April 2020 (updated 05 October 2020)

Background information

In order to combat child poverty, the Federal Ministry of Labour, Family and Youth has decided to increase the (pre-existing) family hardship fund for families in Corona crisis times: Families in which parents (either one or both) are unemployed or in short-time work, thus encountering a loss in income, should be receiving a one-time non-repayable compensation for income loss. Also self-employed people with income losses will be eligible for this support.

Content of measure

Measures against child poverty are to be strengthened, the Federal Minister for Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection, Mr. Anschober said: There are now payments to families who have been pushed into short-time work or unemployment by the current crisis. The previous family hardship compensation fund has been increased by €30 million which is now available for single payments to those affected. From 15 April 2020, parents who had been employed until 28 February and are now on short-time work or have become unemployed due to the crisis are eligible. Self-employed people with losses could also apply for payment. This applies to families with children who receive family allowance. The payment is valid for three months, but is paid once at the beginning and does not have to be paid back.

The exact amount of support depends on previous income. Federal Minister for Labour, Family and Youth, Ms. Aschbacher cited as an example of a family with two children and €3,000 net family income, which would receive €780 for three months after the father's unemployment. The aim is to compensate for the loss of income due to unemployment or short-time work, the Minister said.

The upper limit of monthly payments lies at €1,200.

Updates

The following updates to this measure have been made after it came into effect.

21 September 2020

On 21 September 2020, it was decided in the Parliamentary Committee for Family and Youth to increase the family hardship fund a second time (after an initial increase from €30,000 to 60,000) from €60,000 to €100,000.

09 July 2020

A second phase (called "Family crisis fund" ) started in July 2020, concerning families in which parents were concerned by unemployment on 28 February (receiving unemployment benefit or unemployment assistance), i.e. before the onset of the Corona crisis. Funds in this phase are not income-dependent, €50 per child for two months (i.e. €100 per child in total) are paid. Payments are conducted automatically from 13 July 2020 onwards. For this second phase, a further €30 million are available. No further means tests are applied.

Use of measure

By mid-June, only about €6 million out of the €30 million available from the Corona family hardship fund had been paid due to the very high numbers of applications (over 100,000) which initially exceeded the capacities of the ministry. However, resources were increased and administrative improvements were made to avoid delays in payment. By 21 September 2020, 50,000 cases have been processed and approved. The average amount paid out is €1,250 per family, according to the Parliamentary Committee for Family and Youth.

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Employees in standard employment
Self-employed
Unemployed
Does not apply to businesses Children (minors)
Parents

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
National funds

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Unknown Unknown
Form Not applicable Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Unknown
  • Main level of involvement: Unknown

Involvement

Involvement is unknown.

Views and reactions

Organised labour considers the measure important, but sees improvement in terms of target groups (also formally minimally employed who have lost their jobs) and would favour an increase of unemployment insurance (70% instead of the current 55%). No reaction from the WKO could be identified.

Sources

  • 09 April 2020: One-off payments for affected families (orf.at)
  • 16 June 2020: The second part of the Family Hardship Fund flows automatically (www.sn.at)
  • 23 June 2020: Richtlinien für den Familienkrisenfonds (wolkenbruch)
  • 21 September 2020: Topping up family hardship fund (www.ots.at)

Citation

Eurofound (2020), COVID-19 family hardship fund and family crisis fund, case AT-2020-16/577 (measures in Austria), COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch, Dublin, http://eurofound.link/covid19eupolicywatch

Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process. All information is preliminary and subject to change.