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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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UK AND ITALY

Can British people in Italy claim the UK’s winter fuel payment?

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. But can Britons living in Italy really claim this benefit to cover the cost of heating their Italian homes?

Can British people in Italy claim the UK’s winter fuel payment?

Average winter temperatures vary across Italy, but those who move here after only experiencing scorching summers are often surprised to discover just how cold the country can get.

Even the hardiest of arrivals from colder climes will no doubt have to switch on the radiators or fire up the woodburner between November and February – despite the surging costs.

READ ALSO: Not just gas: How the cost of heating has soared in Italy

As the cost of living crisis bites, some UK nationals who reside in Italy may wonder if they could still be eligible for winter fuel financial support from the UK.

What is the UK’s winter fuel payment?

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

Those eligible must have been born before September 26th 1956, according to the UK government’s website.

How much people receive depends on their age and whether anyone else in the household is also eligible, but the amount is usually between £250 and £600.

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

Yes, if you meet the following criteria according to the British government’s website:

“If you do not live in the UK, you’re only eligible for the Winter Fuel Payment if:

  • you moved to an eligible country before 1 January 2021
  • you were born before 26 September 1956
  • you have a genuine and sufficient link to the UK – this can include having lived or worked in the UK, and having family in the UK”

Unlike Spain and France, which the British government has deemed to be too warm on average, Italy is on the list of eligible countries along with Austria, Germany, Sweden, and others.

Find out how to claim the fuel payment on the UK government’s website here.

According to the UK government, during winter the average temperature is between 2 and 7 degrees Celsius in the UK.

READ ALSO: At what time of day is electricity cheapest in Italy?

The Italian government divides the country into six ‘climate zones’ which determine when and for how long residents should have their heating switched on each winter.

According to the government’s classification, the coldest parts of the country are the northern provinces of Cuneo, Trento, and Belluno, where no heating restrictions apply.

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