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EXPLAINED: Who can claim a discount on energy bills in Italy?

You could get help with your Italian energy bills as part of an updated government scheme to reduce costs - and you don't even need to apply. Here's a look at who's eligible.

EXPLAINED: Who can claim a discount on energy bills in Italy?
How you could get help with your energy costs in Italy. Photo by Francesco Casalino on Unsplash

In response to rising energy bills due to the knock-on effect of the war in Ukraine, the Italian government has rolled on an existing energy bonus to bring down costs.

It forms part of a wider package of measures worth €14 billion to curb the war’s economic impact on Italy, including extending petrol tax discounts and the deadline to claim Italy’s so-called building ‘superbonus 110’.

READ ALSO: Italy plans to cut air conditioner use to save energy

The state aid follows a previous multi-billion euro package, introduced after Russia invaded Ukraine, which made soaring energy bills over the past year even worse.

Fuelled by the surging cost of gas imports, energy prices hit a record in January, which then continued to rise as Italy relies on Russian imports of natural gas for energy than most of its European neighbours and produces very little of it within the country.

Italian authorities consequently passed a new law in March aimed at lowering utility bills for those on lower incomes, which has now been rolled on to the third quarter of 2022.

Following its extension on Monday, as detailed in a government press release, the ‘Social bonus for electricity and gas’ has been approved for another three months.

Here’s what homeowners need to know about claiming it and how to find out if you’re eligible:

Who the scheme is for

The funding is primarily or people on lower incomes, but the income level was raised in March.

READ ALSO: How to save money on your fuel in Italy

More families can claim the discount on utility bills, as it is was made available to those with an ISEE – an indicator of household wealth – of up to to €12,000.

The ISEE is a calculation based on income and other factors and, if you fall within this bracket, you can already benefit from the subsidy.

How will energy supplies be impacted by the Russia-Ukraine war? Photo by Ina FASSBENDER / AFP

The latest update to Italy’s Social bonus for electricity and gas will reach more households. Photo by Ina FASSBENDER / AFP

This marked a hike on the previous ISEE limit of around €8,000, meaning more bill payers – an estimated 5 million households in total – can offset their energy bills.

Households with four or more members with ISEE up to €20,000 can also access the bonus, as can those who claim the citizenship income and people with serious illnesses.

How do I claim?

You don’t need to apply for funding, as Italian energy regulator Arera should automatically grant the discount based on household data held by the tax authorities (INPS).

As long as you have previously submitted your ISEE information, you don’t need to do anything or fill in any forms.

To check your details are up to date, make sure you’ve completed the Dichiarazione Sostitutiva Unica (DSU) form that proves your ISEE for this tax year.

Bear in mind that each applicant is entitled to only one bonus per bill type – electricity, gas and water. So if you claim the bonus for being on a low income, you can’t also claim it on the basis of a serious illness.

If you didn’t submit your ISEE information via the DSU in time for previous quarters, you can retrospectively apply. Any overpayments will be automatically offset in the next bill once you submit your DSU certificate.

How much financial help could you receive?

The new discounts from July haven’t yet been published and could change from the values of the second quarter of this year. In this way, the amount of the social bonus is not fixed.

As a rough guide, from April to June, the discounts on electricity bills range from around €46.50 to €65.70 per month.

For gas, homeowners benefit from reductions of anywhere between around €60 to €300 for the three-month period, depending on how many people are in the household and where the property is located.

You can read more about the scheme on Arera’s portal here.

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PROPERTY

PROPERTY: Is this the end of Italy’s building ‘superbonus’?

As state funds for Italy's popular building 'superbonus' have already been exhausted, Italian authorities are reportedly considering halting any further extensions to the discount scheme.

PROPERTY: Is this the end of Italy's building 'superbonus'?

The Italian government is considering yet more changes for Italy’s so-called building ‘superbonus 110‘, as the allocated budget for the building incentive has already been exceeded, while renovation projects continue to wait in a queue.

According to the latest data from ENEA (Italy’s national agency for new technologies, energy and sustainable economic development), the approximately €33.3 billion that was earmarked for the scheme until 2025 has already gone over by some €400 million.

That makes a total of €33.7 million in claims up until May 31st, 2022.

This means that not only have the Superbonus funds run out, they have also been claimed in excess, potentially meaning that the government could ask for the money back.

In the two years since it was introduced, the building discount scheme has given homeowners the chance to claim a tax deduction of up to 110 percent of the cost of renovation work.

READ ALSO: Nine things we’ve learned about claiming Italy’s building ‘superbonus’

Building jobs covered by the bonus are related to making energy-efficiency upgrades and reducing seismic risk, with the aim of kickstarting Italy’s post-pandemic economic recovery and its construction sector.

The credit transfer system is hampering accessing Italy’s ‘superbonus 110’. Photo by Guilherme Cunha on Unsplash

But the scheme has been beset with delays due to a raft of reasons, including its popularity creating soaring demand, supply chain issues, fraudulent claims, multiple changes to its rules and regulations and a blocking to the credit transfer system – that is, the way people access the government funds to pay for the building work.

These setbacks have caused some homeowners to abandon their plans altogether, or have left many in the middle of works concerned about whether they’ll able to finish their renovation projects in time.

Despite the changes and blockages, however, the bonus has in some way been heralded as a success, considering the vast amount of claims already made.

But what does that mean for those still stuck in the process with works waiting to start or not yet completed?

Property owners who have benefited in part from the subsidies for building renovation work could see their construction site stopped and their funding demanded back, as construction companies are unable to collect the credit.

READ ALSO: Italy’s building superbonus: What’s the problem with credit transfers?

Although no official government statement has yet been made, Italian media reports indicate that, after its latest extension, the authorities don’t intend to roll on the scheme any further beyond 2022 for owners of single family homes.

There have been multiple deadline extensions for this category of property in response to ongoing delays, but the government has ruled out any further lengthening to the current timeframe, reported Il Sole 24 Ore.

As things stand, single unit home owners have until September 30th to complete 30 percent of the overall works, with a final deadline of December 31st, 2022 for all renovations to be completed.

Without further financing and an unblocking of the credit system, those carrying out renovation jobs could find themselves with stalled construction sites, half-finished homes or having to give any claimed money back.

Claiming Italy’s superbonus has been mired by delays and bureaucracy. Photo by Laughing Cynic on Unsplash

The risk to both companies and individuals has prompted criticism from various sectors, as jobs, futures and a continuing stock of energy inefficient houses hang in the balance.

READ ALSO: How to stay out of trouble when renovating your Italian property

“If the government wants the death of the superbonus, it should come and say so… knowing that it is telling companies to go bankrupt,” stated the president of the Productive Businesses Commission, Martina Nardi.

Earlier this month, the CNA (Confederazione Nazionale dell’Artigianato e della Piccola e Media Impresa), which represents Italian small business owners, said some 33,000 businesses are at risk of bankruptcy due to blockages.

Calls to unblock the credit transfer system and overcome the stalemate continue as impending deadlines cause increasing alarm and frustration.

Opening up the credit transfer system would allow construction companies to convert their credit into liquidity, that is, actual money, and thereby complete works already started.

The National Confederation of Craftsmen and Small and Medium Enterprises has spoken of difficulties on the part of “thousands of companies in the construction sector that are unable to transfer tax credits linked to bonuses for the redevelopment of buildings due to the freezing of the market”.

In other words, projects continue to face blockages until building companies can be sure that they’ll receive the money they were granted.

READ ALSO: The hidden costs of buying a home in Italy

In an open letter to Italy’s prime minister Mario Draghi, one architect described the situation as an “almost unprecedented liquidity crisis” that is pushing the country to “the brink of the deepest economic and social crisis ever seen and managed”.

“It has been two years of tribulation, this we can say today, that have turned genius into monstrosity due to the constant changes, corrections and adjustments that keep everyone in suspense,” wrote Daniele Menichini.

The government has been criticised for doing the opposite of what they stated with the superbonus, instead causing further economic downturn. Photo by Damien MEYER / AFP

“The situation that is looming at this time is of uncertainty and insecurity, in which society will hit a wall because of the blocked credits and the blocking of all those projects that were about to start,” he added.

While the government has expressed no intention to refinance the scheme beyond 2022 for single family homes, a glimmer of hope remains via an opening up of credit in a further expected amendment to the superbonus.

READ ALSO:

Easing the bottleneck would ensure that at least the projects that will meet the 2022 deadlines can be financed and completed.

To do this, the government is reportedly considering extending the ability to obtain credit to other parties besides banks, such as construction companies themselves. In doing so, it removes one extra bureaucratic hurdle and would unlock the current standstill due to many banks no longer buying credit.

The question of how the authorities will foot the bill for the already overrun budget still remains, with some reports suggesting an extra financial boost from the government will be needed until the end of 2022.

Other possibilities point towards allowing firms to carry over their credit surpluses until next year, to overcome the obligation to offset the credit this year.

Meanwhile, some categories of building have until 2025 to claim state funds with declining amounts available each year, but the future financing of which still isn’t clear.

The Local will continue to provide updates on this.

See more in our Italian property section.

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