Spain announces €400 culture pass ‘birthday gift’ for teens turning 18

Teenagers turning 18 in 2022 will receive a €400 culture pass to spend on anything from books, concerts and cinema tickets, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced Wednesday.

Spain announces €400 culture pass 'birthday gift' for teens turning 18

Speaking at Ljubjana’s EU-Western Balkans summit, Sánchez said the measure would improve young people’s access to culture, and at the same time, help the Spanish culture industry, which has suffered great financial losses during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The announcement comes just a few days after the government announced it would launch a housing scheme that would give 18 to 35 year-olds mid-income earners a monthly €250 discount off their rent.

Both measures were announced as part of the Spanish government’s agreed budget for 2022, although this still needs to be approved by the Spanish Cabinet in its meeting on Thursday.

READ ALSO: Spain to give young mid-income earners €250 monthly rental allowance

It follows similar legislation in Italy and France, where governments have distributed €500 and €300 bonuses respectively for young people to spend on culture.

Ione Belarra, leader of junior coalition party Unidas Podemos and minister of Social Rights, said the culture pass was her party’s proposition. “The budget agreement will include a youth culture pass, after a proposal by Unidas Podemos,” she said in a tweet.

Vice-president Yolanda Díaz, leader of Unidas Podemos, said that “supporting the arts and young people’s futures was an essential condition in the budget, which must act as an impulse for culture”.

Who will be eligible for the culture pass?

The money will be allocated to all young people from the moment they turn 18 years old, starting in 2022.

The Culture and Sports Ministry, in charge of rolling out the new scheme, which will cost €200 million, calculates half a million young people will be eligible across the country.

What can the culture pass be used for?

The money, said Sánchez, can be spent on things like buying books or going to the cinema, the theatre and live concerts.

However, the money will be divided into different sections, so not all of it is spent just on books, for example. Precise details of how many sections it will be divided into have not yet been announced. It’s also not yet clear whether the pass will be used with an app, like in France and Italy, or a different system.

After Sánchez initially said the culture pass would include bullfighting, Spain’s Minister of Culture and Sports, Miquel Iceta, later said it would not be covered, and neither will subscriptions to streaming platforms, according to Cadena Ser.

On the other hand, young adults will be able to use the culture pass to buy video games.

Iceta added that: “it’s like an 18th birthday present, and I would love it if they spent it at the opera or a classical music concert.”

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Can British people in Spain 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 Spain claim this benefit to cover the cost of heating their Spanish homes?

Can British people in Spain claim the UK's winter fuel payment?

Energy costs are on the up in Spain, and with the winter fast approaching the added cost of paying for heating when the mercury drops can result in some very high bills.

Not all of Spain has freezing winters but there are often cold spells and many houses in the country tend to get even colder than it is outside.

READ MORE: Why are Spanish homes so cold?

The average winter temperature across Spain is 8C (1981 to 2010 average). That’s higher than the average in other European countries, but in Spain’s interior and mountainous areas it can be truly chilly from November to March.  

That means that overall, there’s a chance you’ll need to use a radiator or the central heating to keep your Spanish home warm.

So are some of the 400,000+ UK nationals who reside in Spain 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 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 Spain. Can I claim the winter fuel payment?

The UK government states that those living abroad can benefit from the winter fuel payment if:

  • You moved to an eligible country before 1st January 2021
  • You were born before September 26th 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

While many EU nations are on the list of eligible countries, such as Austria, Germany, Sweden, and Italy, unfortunately Spain is not on the list.

This means that if you live in Spain, you will not be able to claim the winter fuel payment at all, even if you meet the age conditions.

Why isn’t Spain on the eligible list of countries?

The UK government services website nidirect states that “you cannot get the payment if you live in Cyprus, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Malta, Portugal or Spain because the average winter temperature is higher than the warmest region of the UK”.

This is despite the fact that some parts of Spain are a lot colder than the average UK winter temperatures. This includes cities, towns and villages near mountain ranges such as the Pyrenees or Sierra Nevada, or regions in the interior like Castilla-La Mancha, Aragón​​ and Castilla y León.

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

READ ALSO: Where are the coldest places in Spain?

Foreigners in Spain used to be able to claim this financial benefit, but it was scrapped in 2015 after many UK taxpayers were angry that UK winter fuel payments were going to help people that lived in countries that were generally warmer than the UK.

READ ALSO: Which UK benefits can Brits keep if they move to Spain?