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COST OF LIVING

Can British people in Austria claim the winter fuel payment from the UK?

It’s no secret that winter is set to be expensive with rising energy costs. But some British people in Austria might be able to access financial support through the UK benefits system.

Can British people in Austria claim the winter fuel payment from the UK?
Some British people living in Austria might be able to claim the winter fuel payment from the UK. (Photo by Suzy Hazelwood / Pexels)

In the UK, there are various benefits available to help eligible people through the cold winter months – one of which is the winter fuel payment.

And, as the rising cost of living in Austria takes a chunk out of household budgets, some British people are wondering if they can still claim this benefit while living in Austria.

To find out, we took a closer look at the rules for claiming the winter fuel payment from the UK while overseas.

FOR MEMBERS: What are the rules about turning on the heating in the workplace in Austria?

What is the UK’s winter fuel payment?

The winter fuel payment is a tax-free payment to help older people with heating costs during the cold winter months.

Eligible people are those born on or before 25th September 1956 who were living in the UK during the qualifying week (starting the third Monday in September).

How much people receive depends on their age and whether anyone else in the household is also eligible, but the amount is usually between £100 and £300.

Those living in a care home or nursing home only qualify for the benefit if they are already receiving pension credit, income-based job seekers allowance or employment and support allowance.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What will happen to Austria’s property market in 2023?

I’m a UK national living in Austria. Can I claim the winter fuel payment?

As with most issues related to bureaucracy, the answer to the question above is: it depends.

Official guidance from the UK government states that you may be able to claim the winter fuel benefit from abroad if you are at least 68 years of age, live in Switzerland or an EEA country, have a genuine link to the UK (such as family) and you’re covered by the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

Additionally, having previously claimed the winter fuel payment in the UK before moving abroad is not a requirement.

So, in theory, some British people living in Austria will be able to claim this benefit from the UK, as long as they were already in Austria by 31st December 2020.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How does the Austrian pension system work?

However, only those that lived and worked in the UK for most of their life can claim the winter fuel payment, according to the online checker on the UK government website. 

This means if you moved to Austria for retirement and you meet the other criteria, then you probably will be eligible. But if you lived and worked in Austria for most of your adult life, maybe not.

How to claim the winter fuel payment?

To make a claim for this benefit for the first time, you will need to call the Winter Fuel Payment hotline on +44 (0)191 218 7777. The phone lines are open from Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm (UK time).

Alternatively, you can apply by post by filling in the IPCF091 form.

To apply for the winter fuel payment, you will need to provide your National Insurance number and bank details. The authorities will also ask for a copy of the Article 50 Card to prove that you were living in Austria by 31st December 2020.

Find out more about the application process at the UK government website.

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COST OF LIVING

Reader question: When will I receive my delayed €500 Klimabonus payment in Austria?

The Austrian government has started sending out the final €500 payments for its anti-inflation and climate bonus 2022. This is what you need to know.

Reader question: When will I receive my delayed €500 Klimabonus payment in Austria?

Starting Thursday, February 2nd, the last instalment of the Klimabonus for 2022 will be paid out, according to Austria’s Climate Protection Ministry.

Most people in Austria have already received the €500 payment, meant to offset rising inflation and a part of the country’s ecotax reform, in the fall/winter of 2022. However, those who only fulfilled the requirements later in the year will receive it now. 

According to the responsible Climate Protection Ministry, this affects around 457,000 people in Austria. 

These people either only transferred their primary residence to Austria in the first half of 2022, were recently born or for whom the status under the immigration law has yet to be clarified by the Ministry of the Interior.

READ ALSO: ‘I’m still waiting’: Foreigners in Austria still not been paid Klimabonus handout

How will the payment be made?

According to the ministry, the climate bonus comes without application and automatically via bank transfer or mail as a voucher. 

About 300,000 people will receive it directly to their account by Monday, February 6th, and about 150,000 will receive the climate bonus through the mail as an RSA letter – the vouchers will be delivered from the second half of February and should arrive to all by the beginning of March at the latest. The Post Office will deliver the vouchers in the second half of February, it said.

Is this the final payment?

Even those who received the Klimabonus in 2022 will also receive another payment in 2023. However, don’t get too excited; it will be far from the €500 subsidy the government offered in 2022.

The €500 Klimabonus was actually a Klima- und Antiteuerungsbonus, two bonuses in one. One, totalling €250, is the “climate bonus”(Klimabonus). The other, also €250, is the “anti-inflation bonus” (Anti-Teuerungsbonus).

The anti-inflation bonus was a one-off payment and is not expected to be repeated in 2023.

READ ALSO: Reader question: I’ve received my Austrian Klimabonus as a voucher, now what?

The climate bonus is part of Austria’s “ecosocial tax reform”, a set of measures destined to promote climate protection. One of them is a tax on CO2 emissions, which will raise the fuel prices in the country, affecting Austrian drivers.

The yearly Klimabonus will offset this expense. The idea is that the more you use public transport, the more of the bonus you will have “left” by the end of the month. 

According to the government, those living in well-connected cities with plenty of options for public transport (people who, therefore, could easily choose more eco-friendly transportation instead of a car) will receive less money. For example, in Vienna, the payment will be €100.

The maximum payment will be €250.

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