Since 1.1.2017 there has no longer been any nationwide agreement on the means-tested minimum income benefit scheme (MIB). Benefits are now regulated differently from Land to Land. To cover living costs and the costs of adequate housing, the Länder are required to guarantee a certain level of monthly payments as a minimum standard. As the MIB statistics for 2017 are not yet available (status: 22.2.2018), the provisions for 2016 will be described below. The baseline figure was the net amount derived from the equalisation supplemental reference rate for single persons minus the health insurance contribution.
In 2016 the MIB to cover living costs and housing (minimum standard as defined by the agreement between the federal government and the Länder) essentially comprised two components: A basic amount of 628.32 euros and 209.44 euros to cover the costs of housing per month (twelve times per year), which together makes 837.76 euros. If the cost of adequate housing cannot be completely met with this housing component, the Länder should provide additional benefits (as a rule the Länder cannot provide additional cash or non-cash benefits for special needs that are not covered). Individuals living in partnerships together received 1.5 times the basic amount: but at least 1,256.64 euros.
For the first three (underage) children an additional sum of at least 150.80 euros each (18% of the amount for single persons) was paid out, and for each additional child 125.66 euros. However, an actual reduction for more than three children was only achieved in three Länder (Carinthia, Upper Austria and as of 1.9.2016 in Styria).
In 2016, the minimum standards implemented in all Länder for children exceeded those agreed between the Länder and the federal government, on average by 17.13% for the first three children. The highest amount in excess of this level was paid in Vienna with 226.20 euros (33.3% more), followed by Upper Austria (28.29% more). In Carinthia payments most closely approximated the amounts set out in the agreement and were thus the lowest (0.03% more).
Implementation of the minimum standards demonstrated a number of Länder-specific features; for more detailed information see the MIB statistics as well as the relevant regulations/notices of the Länder.
As many individuals who receive means-tested minimum income benefit do so as a supplement to income from employment or to unemployment benefit (in each case below the level of the means-tested minimum income benefit), the actual amounts received are often frequently significantly lower than the amounts listed here.
Agreement between Bund and Länder pursuant to Art. 15a B-VG on a nationwide means-tested minimum income benefit scheme came into force on 1.12.2010. The first baseline value defined as the net sum for 2011 was 752.94 euros for single persons (this is a minimum amount). The amounts for other persons were based on fixed percentages, which have remained unchanged since then. Consequently, reference will only be made below to the development of the minimum standards (the rates of change are identical for all persons, especially for children). In all years from 2011 to 2016 persons of age living in the same household with other persons of age each received at least 75% of the baseline value for single persons; for each additional person of age who was eligible to receive the benefit, at least 50% was paid out if this person was eligible for maintenance payments from another person in the same household.
The first three underage children for whom there was an entitlement to family allowance and who were living in the same household with at least one person of age, consistently received at least 18% of the baseline value, in the case of four or more children at least 15%.
Since then, under the terms of the agreement, the minimum standards for all persons (and in particular for children) have been raised by an average of 2.16% per year through annual index adjustment, or by a total of 11.27% from 2011 to 2016. As the annual rate of inflation averaged just 1.58% or 8.16% over the five-year period, the minimum standards rose faster than the rate of inflation. Adjusted for inflation this resulted in a real increase of 2.87% (+0.57% per year).
It should be noted here that people with low incomes spend a significantly higher proportion of their income on housing and food (the prices of which have recently risen much faster than average) so that inflation tends to affect recipients of MIB more severely.
As the parties to the contract have not (yet) been able to reach a new agreement, responsibility for structuring means-tested minimum income benefit is since January 2017 once more fully incumbent on the Länder with no common framework – as was the case with the income support it replaced.