Refugees shocked by Aus­trian call to re­pay ben­e­fits

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMUNITY NEWS - BY LIANNE KOLIRIN BY JC RE­PORTER

TWO NONAGENARIAN Aus­trian refugees liv­ing in Manch­ester are fac­ing de­mands for thou­sands of pounds of ben­e­fit re­pay­ments from the Aus­trian gov­ern­ment.

As Aus­trian na­tion­als, the 93-yearold woman and 92-year-old man, who are both in care homes, are en­ti­tled to pen­sions from the Aus­trian gov­ern­ment.

How­ever, they had also been re­ceiv­ing Pflegegeld, the Aus­trian ver­sion of the at­ten­dance al­lowance paid to dis­abled peo­ple need­ing help with care.

They were un­aware they were not en­ti­tled to Pflegegeld if they were re­ceiv­ing the Bri­tish equiv­a­lent. It can only be claimed in one coun­try.

The Aus­trian au­thor­i­ties de­manded 17,000 eu­ros from the woman and an undis­closed amount from the man. Both were shocked by the de­mands and their cases have been taken up by the As­so­ci­a­tion for Jewish Refugees.

AJR chief ex­ec­u­tive Michael New­man has ne­go­ti­ated the claim against the woman down to 3,500 eu­ros and is hope­ful of fur­ther progress in both in­stances.

“It’s some­thing we’re try­ing to re­solve,” he said. “Both are Holo­caust refugees who have care needs. They were both re­ceiv­ing the ben­e­fits. We re­sponded to say they were un­aware of the EU di­rec­tive, that they acted in good faith and made a full dis­clo­sure.

“There will be other peo­ple who will be re­ceiv­ing both pay­ments but they have seemed to have ze­roed in on these two.”

He hoped the Aus­trian pen­sion au­thor­i­ties would waive claims in such cases.

A Depart­ment of Work and Pen­sions spokesper­son con­firmed: “EU rules pre­vent peo­ple from claim­ing the same or equiv­a­lent ben­e­fit in two dif­fer­ent coun­tries. Any­one un­sure of their el­i­gi­bil­ity for at­ten­dance al­lowance should con­tact the At­ten­dance Al­lowance helpline.” Stu­art Ep­stein’s widow Daliah ad­dress­ing JRoots sup­port­ers at the cen­tral Lon­don din­ner

‘They acted in good faith and made a full dis­clo­sure’

A HOLO­CAUST education fund has been es­tab­lished in mem­ory of a Hamp­stead Gar­den Sub­urb fa­ther-ofthree who died sud­denly in De­cem­ber at the age of 44.

The Stu­art Ep­stein JRoots Fund was launched on Mon­day by Mr Ep­stein’s widow Daliah and four Holo­caust sur­vivors at the first JRoots fundrais­ing din­ner, held in cen­tral Lon­don and

at­tended by 400 peo­ple. Its pur­pose is to fi­nance vis­its by young Jews to Poland and other key Jewish her­itage sites across Europe and north Africa.

Shortly be­fore his death, Mr Ep­stein raised £20,000 for JRoots, hav­ing been in­spired by par­tic­i­pat­ing in one of its six-day Poland tours guided by Auschwitz sur­vivor Les­lie Klein­man.

Mrs Ep­stein said launch­ing the fund was “a bit­ter-sweet plea­sure. Af­ter ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the his­tory of the

Holo­caust in such a real way, Stu­art wanted to give back for what he be­lieved JRoots had done for him and so many oth­ers in open­ing eyes to our Jewish her­itage, Jewish his­tory and Jewish re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

It is an­tic­i­pated the pri­mary ben­e­fi­cia­ries will be pupils of JFS and mem­bers of United Syn­a­gogue youth arm Tribe, both of which have con­nec­tions to the Ep­stein fam­ily.

The din­ner raised £250,000.

PHOTO: BLAKE EZRA

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