“No one should freeze” – “Wohnschirm” will also cover energy costs in the future


The ‘living umbrella’ of the Ministry of Social Affairs now also supports people with low incomes in paying overdue energy costs and problems with the amount of advance payments. To this end, the project was increased at the end of last year to 134 million euros in 2026.

According to a survey by Statistics Austria, about 500,000 people cannot keep their homes sufficiently warm, Social Affairs Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) said at a press conference on Monday. Just as many are in arrears with rent, operating costs or loan repayments. That is why the living screen has been expanded with an energy fuse. “No one should, should not and should not freeze in Austria,” Rauch emphasized.

The living dome thus takes over the overdue energy costs if the existing support services of the federal states are not sufficient. In addition, if necessary, there is financial support to cover higher advances. This is broken down by household size. A single-person household receives a maximum of 660 euros, a two-person household a maximum of 1060 euros and a three-person household a maximum of 1460 euros. According to the ministry, people from lower incomes are entitled to a third of the population.

“Nobody Gets Knocked Out”
“Actually, no one in Austria has turned off their electricity or heating, that is the goal,” said the minister, who expects a “significant increase in the number of people affected and the crowds”. To receive support, those affected can turn to one of the more than a hundred advice centers of Volkshilfe, Caritas, Diakonie and the Red Cross throughout Austria.

“The past few months have been characterized by an increase in the number of advice on eviction procedures, terminations and eviction dates,” reports Erich Fenninger, CEO of Volkshilfe. In Vienna alone, there was an almost 50 percent increase in initial consultations compared to the previous year. Single parents are particularly affected.

Caritas Secretary General Anna Parr also spoke of a “dramatic situation”. “The number of consultations has also increased sharply with us.” Questions had increased precisely with regard to energy costs. In addition, more and more people are affected. “Energy poverty is invading the middle class,” Parr noted.

Ask about ombudsmen
Michael Opriesnig, secretary-general of the Red Cross, has noted not only an increase in the number of consultations over the past month, but also a change in the groups that use them. The one-off payments would have worked very well temporarily, many people could have been saved from eviction. “Our goal is a society based on solidarity that does not forget the weakest,” he said. He also called on energy suppliers to set up ombudsman offices, such as those already existing at Wien Energie.

The living umbrella helps as the “last parachute”, also Maria Katharina Moser, director of the Diakonie, welcomed the measure. However, she emphasized that above all an increase in housing assistance – “here it is up to the Länder” – and a reform of social assistance are needed.

5200 people saved from homelessness
Since March 2022, the living umbrella has been deployed to support people threatened with evictions. More than 2,300 apartments have since been secured, according to the ministry, saving more than 5,200 people from homelessness. The federal government increased the funds for this last year from the originally planned 24 million euros to 134 million euros by 2026.

Source: Krone


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Share post:



More like this