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

Factsheet for measure 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, 15 April 2020 – 30 June 2021
Context COVID-19
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
Measure added 13 April 2020 (updated 10 November 2021)

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.

24 February 2021

On 24 February 2021, (new) family minister Ms Raab announced an increase of the budget for the family hardship fund by further €50 million, increasing the total budget to €200 million. The runtime of the measure was extended to 30 June 2021.

30 December 2020

On 30 December 2020, family minister Ms Aschbacher announced that the budget for the family hardship fund is to be increased by €50 million for 2021 (after €100 million were allocated for 2020).

Furthermore, the requirements for entitlement to funds will be relaxed. Firstly, the circle of beneficiaries is expanded to farmers. Secondly, in 2020, a prerequisite for a claim to the fund was that family allowance had to be drawn on February 28, 2020. From 2021, this rule is relaxed as it will also apply if family allowance was received at the time of application (at the latest).

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 to €60 million) from €60 to €100 million.

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.

On 30 December 2020, family minister Ms Aschbacher stated that in 2020, 72,500 families received benefits from the fund. In total, €96 million (of the €100 million available) were exhausted. On average, families received €1,300 from the fund.

By mid-February 2021, in total, almost €120 million were paid to approximately 90,000 families. The average payment per family was at €1,300. Especially single parents have benefitted from the fund; around one third of all positively assessed applications are from this group.

As of 30 June 2021 (the latest date of application), a total of 160,873 applications were submitted, 100,444 of which were treated positively (and 40,615 negatively. The processing of the cases was stopped for 18,216 applications because missing documents had not been submitted (despite repeated requests). In total, €131.1 million had been paid. Missing documents for applications still being processed may be submitted until 31 October 2021.

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)
  • 30 December 2020: Family hardship fund expanded (www.diepresse.com)
  • 15 July 2021: Family hardship fund: more than 100,000 applications processed positively (kurier.at)

Citation

Eurofound (2020), COVID-19 family hardship fund and family crisis fund, measure AT-2020-16/577 (measures in Austria), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin, https://static.eurofound.europa.eu/covid19db/cases/AT-2020-16_577.html

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