Blümel on hardship fund – to give quickly is to give double
Support from EUR 1 billion hardship fund available via online application. Corona crisis fund totalling EUR 15 billion to support directly affected sectors.

"As a federal government, in the briefest possible time we have provided a protective umbrella for the Austrian national economy to the tune of EUR 38 billion. It is important that the money needed is received quickly by those affected. For to give quickly is to give double," declared Austrian Finance Minister Gernot Blümel at a press conference on the corona assistance measures. At present, the initial measures taken are already providing more liquidity for business, for instance through the option to defer tax payments. Austrian tax offices have already processed over 45,000 tax deferral applications or requests for reductions of payments on account, allowing businesses to retain an additional volume of EUR 1.3 billion in liquidity. In addition, the federal government is providing EUR 9 billion in guarantees, and here too, initial approvals have already been granted.

In addition to these measures, a significant portion of the EUR 38 billion protective umbrella consists of the immediate aid package totalling EUR 4 billion. From these funds, EUR 100 million has already flowed into the care sector, EUR 22 million into research and clinical studies, and EUR 116 million into medical devices and equipment. In addition, the package is being used to finance corona short-time working to the tune of EUR 400 million. "On top of that, EUR 1 billion is earmarked for the hardship fund. Here, the priority is to help the smallest business operators, such as sole traders, for here we have a situation where, as a state, we must ensure that these people can continue covering their fixed costs," added Minister Blümel.

Support from the hardship fund can be applied for in two phases. The first phase will be launched as early as Friday 27 March 2020. "In the first phase, either EUR 500 or EUR 1,000 may be requested, and this will be paid out immediately without any undue formalities. In the second phase, an application may be made to receive up to EUR 2,000 per month for a maximum of three months where a business suffers a fall in sales due to the corona crisis," added Minister Blümel.

In addition to the hardship fund, the corona crisis fund, totalling EUR 15 billion, has been set up for directly-affected firms. Here, a subsidised credit agreement enables application for loans at favourable terms. Unavoidable operating costs, such as energy costs, insurance or rent, can be deducted from loan repayments at a level of 75%.

"With all of these measures, it is the case that we want to assist swiftly and with as little bureaucracy as possible. However, the checks which must be undertaken are intended to ensure that schemes cannot be abused. We will extend as much goodwill as possible, and apply only as many checks as are absolutely essential," concluded Finance Minister Blümel.