WKÖ experts discuss the hardship fund (Härtefall-Fonds): circle of recipients broadened

by | Apr 3, 2020

Fund increased to 2 billion euros – losses of income compensated – new entrepreneurs also included in the process – Phase 2 starts after Easter

*Because this is an unofficial translation, provided purely to help people, please understand that the translation is not perfect.

This is a convenience translation of the original German article available online (https://news.wko.at/news/oesterreich/Haertefall-Fonds:-WKOe-Spitze:-Ausweitung- des-Bezieherkre.html)

After providing rapid assistance of up to 1,000 euros for self-employed persons during the first phase (of the hardship fund / Härtefall-Fonds), the Austrian government announced the key points today [1.4.2020] for the second phase of the hardship fund and increased the fund to 2 billion euros. “In doing so, the Federal Economic Chamber’s (WKÖ’s) essential demands were considered. For example, the circle of recipients has been broadened so that significantly more entrepreneurs can receive money from the fund,” emphasized Harald Mahrer, President of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKÖ).

Maximum of 2,000 euros for up to three months

In specific terms, a subsidy of a maximum of 2,000 euros per month will be provided over up to three months to compensate for the loss of income – up to a total of 6,000 euros. The first period of consideration for the loss of income will be the first month of the COVID-19 crisis, (i.e. the period from 16.3. to 15.4).

“As an operational service provider, the WKÖ will oversee the hardship fund for the Federal Government. We have sent a report to the government that describes the experiences made during the early days of processing requests and have been able to achieve important improvements for the entrepreneurs in the country. For example, upper- and lower-income limits will no longer apply in future, and multiple insurance policies and additional income will no longer be grounds for exclusion,” explained WKÖ Secretary General Karlheinz Kopf. In addition, in Phase 2, new entrepreneurs (business start-ups established from 1.1.2020 and on) can now also apply for a lump sum from this “first-aid fund”.

Government working on the funding criteria

The hardship fund is a personal ‘first-aid’ measure for entrepreneurs who have been and are acutely affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Aside from this, the Federal Government is working on the funding criteria for the Corona Crisis Fund (Corona-Krisen-Fonds, previously called the Emergency Aid Fund / Notfallhilfefonds), the presentation of which has been announced for Friday [3.4.2020].

Mahrer und Kopf: “Our self-employed persons and their businesses urgently need support now. The hardship fund is an important element of the emergency aid package. We, as the Economic Chamber, will also ensure that the fund is efficiently managed in Phase 2, that the applications can be processed as quickly and unbureaucratically as possible, and that entrepreneurs receive the support as quickly as possible”.

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