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“Heating allowance”: Austerity mind-set thinks poor Greeks freeze less in the South

This year’s ‘heating allowance’ for the poor and the needy will be cut by 50%. The total amount from the state budget will drop from €210 million last winter down to just €105 million. Blame the austerity, the bailout programs, the prior actions  and the shortage of liquidity.

In the name of the 3. bailout agreement, the income criteria for the beneficiaries  will be lowered below €30,000 annual income for the one-person household and €40,000 for a family. the new criteria have not been announced yet.

The government plans to divide Greece in four zones according to temperature levels. The reasoning is that the Greek South is not affected by the cold weather as much as the Greek North. Therefore the old and the needy in the south will most likely be no eligible for the financial aid so that they can survive the winter.

But most probably also those in the North will see their heating oil allowance to be much lower than last year. In certain geographical areas in the North, the allowance can reach up to 1,050 euro for the whole of the heating period, in areas like Athens or Corinth up to 360 euro.

The heating allowance was introduced last year in order to help the poor to afford a warm home after an extra austerity tax was imposed in the heating oil leaving thousands of households in crisis Greece in the cold.

Last year, the allowance was €0.35 per liter of heating oil and it was given to 1,100,000 households. 350,000 beneficiaries are still awaiting to receive the last tranche of 40 million euro in total.

According to media reports the new criteria will scrap the 25% in advance and the aid will be €0.25/liter.

Income criteria for one-person household will go down to €12,000 annual income (30K last year) and for families with 2 children down to €24,000 (46k last year).

The property value criteria will be stricter as well.

The new criteria to be imposed are fixed in the “prior actions” agreement between Greece and its European lenders who most probably spend their working lives in offices heated with taxpayers’ money.

The heating allowance is given only to those who heat their homes with heating oil. Those heating their homes with natural gas are not included in the program, independently of whether their annual income is close to zero euro. The price of natural gas is some 30% cheaper than the price of the heating oil and many low-pensioners in the city are preparing for a third or fourth winter without heat.

More details on the government’s new plans (income criteria, property value criteria and the four zones here)

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