Finance Minister Blümel: Hardship fund doubled to EUR 2 billion
"Everyone who needs help will get help" – phase 2 of Austria's hardship fund to be launched on 16 April, with removal of upper and lower limits on earnings, and expansion of scheme to cover business start-ups

"The prime objective of the entire federal government remains to safeguard people's health, to save lives, to preserve as many jobs as possible, and to support business through the crisis. For this reason, we have extended a protective shield in the sum of EUR 38 billion across the Austrian national economy," declared Finance Minister Gernot Blümel at today's press conference. This aid package, totalling EUR 38 billion, comprises EUR 10 billion for tax payment deferrals, EUR 9 billion for guarantees and liabilities, EUR 4 billion for emergency aid, and a corona assistance fund totalling EUR 15 billion.

Emergency aid, totalling EUR 4 billion, was established to provide rapid initial assistance to those affected, without the necessity of excessive red tape; these funds have also been used to finance corona short-time working with the aim of preserving jobs. The emergency aid has also been used to finance the hardship fund, phase 1 of which has already been launched. This sum will now be doubled from EUR 1 billion to EUR 2 billion. "The first phase has already commenced, and almost 90% of applications have already been processed. Here, I wish to thank all those who have been involved in the preparatory work and rapid processing, and who have truly ensured, through contributing a maximum of effort, that those who need money right away, speedily, and with a minimum of bureaucracy, are also able to receive it," added Minister Blümel.

"We have extended the scope of eligibility, which is why we have also increased the funding available. In practice, anyone who has earned a living through self-employment over the past few years will be entitled to benefit," explained Blümel. Submissions for the second phase will be launched on 16 April. In phase 2, it will be possible to receive a payment of up to EUR 2,000 monthly for a period of three months. In total, therefore, a sum of up to EUR 6,000 will be available. In contrast to phase 1, in phase 2 both the upper and lower earnings limits will be removed by way of eligibility criteria. This phase will also be open to business start-ups.

"We cannot say how long this crisis will last, and we cannot promise when it will be over. However, what we can promise is that we will do everything in order to protect people's health, to save lives, to save as many jobs as possible, and to support businesses through the crisis," concluded Minister Blümel.