September 25, 2020

“It is easier to get an appointment for the Minimum Living Income with the güija than by phone”


Beyond the parliamentary fights and the political impulses, out here, in neighborhoods like this one of Carabanchel in Madrid, the theory becomes something tangible and concrete. Whether or not to collect the Minimum Living Income can make the difference between having a roof and food and not having it. Between getting ahead and stagnating.

“But in many cases the Minimum Living Income is not enough,” say the people who have organized protests in various cities of the country demanding an Emergency Basic Income and a greater provision of the Ministry of Social Security of José Luis Escrivá.

“They have to hire more workers to streamline the procedures, this is agony,” complains José Manuel Ruiz, without work since January, a member of the Unemployed Association.

“I have been waiting for the Minimum Living Income (IMV) since July and they still have not told me anything, it is under study,” explains Enrique Castro, a member of Marea Básica and participant in the protest held this Tuesday in front of the headquarters of the Social Security of Carabanchel, one of the six summoned in Madrid. “We cannot continue in exclusion,” he says while holding a banner that reads “No one below the poverty line.”

Alicia Sanz is in a similar situation to Enrique’s. She lives with her daughter in a rented apartment and has been without work since the start of the pandemic. “And without entering anything, because I changed my job of my own accord, I was going to look for another, but confinement just arrived. I was unlucky. So I don’t have unemployment benefits, nothing,” she says.

Her landlord wants to kick her out, he has given her until October 31. “I have told him that I am waiting for the Minimum Vital Income, the maximum term is supposed to answer you from the Administration is three months, but I am afraid that in three months they will tell me ‘uf, we are here, we still do not have enough workers to process the requests “.

Meanwhile, Alicia has been borrowing money, “10 euros here”, “15 there, to give the landlord something”. She is still looking for work and has posted “several resumes without a date of birth, because I am already a woman over 50”.

“Europe sets a decent threshold, Spain does not meet it”

Precisely this Tuesday the maximum period initially established to process applications submitted three months ago was exhausted, when the deadline was opened. Faced with the traffic jam in management, Social Security has announced an extension until December.

Those who wait for an answer do so “with uncertainty, blindly and without knowing when we will receive something, if we do receive it, because there is what is called administrative silence: if at the end of the term they have not told you anything, it is a no, and then the claims would begin in the social courts, “he explains in the rally convened on Serrano Street in Madrid Hontanares Arranz, from Marea Básica.

“In fact, this is what was going to happen now: given the number of people who have not received a response, the social courts were going to get bogged down with claims, which is why they have had to extend,” he adds.

Luis M. Sáenz, from the Latin-Lucero Popular Solidarity Network, tells it with irony: “It is easier to get an appointment for the Minimum Vital Income with the güija than through the telephone authorized for it.”

Both he and all the members of the RMI Tu Derecho Platform, made up of various groups and associations, appeal “to the European Social Charter, which establishes a minimum threshold of 740 euros, but here they have people charging less than 500 euros per month, the authorities are not complying and we have not arrived. Spain does not comply, “Castro denounces.

“The Government presented the IMV with a lot of publicity and as a panacea, but the reality is being very different,” he says.

Amendments sent to all parliamentary groups

From the Platform, a series of amendments has been presented to all parliamentary groups that emphasize the need to eliminate filters that “leave many applicants out” and that “turn the application for the Minimum Vital Income into a true gymkhana”.

“We request that people from 18 to 23 years old, now excluded, have the right to request this income. We also ask that the requirement to be registered in the same place for at least one year, because that is quite incompatible with the people who usually need this help, people who are in extreme poverty and therefore go from floor to floor wherever they make a hole, or sometimes live on the street. Another condition for a single person to access the IMV is that there is worked twelve months in the last three years. Many people in social exclusion do not meet that requirement, “says Hontanares.

The management of the IMV is not the only procedure with obstacles. Affected people denounce that there is a collapse in applications for aid to unemployed people over 52 years of age, in paternity and maternity leave or in work disabilities.

José Manuel is over 52 years old, he has been without work since January, he lived in confinement with a herniated disc, he had to move to his sister’s house, also unemployed and they run the risk of being evicted. “We have no income and we face too many bureaucratic obstacles to ask for aid,” he laments.

For someone like him, any management is complicated. You can no longer pay for the phone, so you have to apply in person. But without an appointment – which is managed by phone – it is not possible. “So I came to call on the phone as I can every day, but getting caught is a miracle.”

Javier Baeza, parish priest of Entrevías and present at the concentration convened in Calle Serrano in Madrid, explains it like this: “It is a spell of difficulties. Here the Community of Madrid sent a letter telling everyone who collected the Minimum Insertion Income ( REMI) who had ten days to request the Minimum Living Income or if not, the REMI would be extinguished. Only in the parish we helped process 70 requests in ten days. ”

Post offices have also become another kind of public registry, as some Internet operations subsequently require printing of the application and sending it by post. “And they charge you three and a half euros for it, that for people in my situation is one more obstacle, you pay it, but in our situation every euro counts,” says José Manuel.

There are various neighborhoods in which associations and groups have organized to help people do their paperwork. “There are daily queues. Cases of poverty are a constant trickle, it is like when they put you in the hospital and they put you on it drop by drop: constant, constant, people who are going to be evicted, people who need food,” says Ana Isabel of Basic Tide.

Guillermo Escobar, a professor at the University of Alcalá, is one of the drafters of the amendments sent to the parliamentary groups. Some have responded, others have not. “The approach of its law the Government bases it on the right of the Constitution to Social Security: sufficient benefits in situations of need. But these benefits are not enough, they are not complying with the constitutional mandate,” Escobar indicates.

That is why the Platform requests an Emergency Basic Income, “immediate, that does not require so many procedures and that next year the Treasury will restructure and review, but without the current filters that leave out many people who really urgently need a decent income” .

“Spain has to reorder its protection system. Of more than 700,000 IMV applications, only slightly more than 74,000 have been processed ex officio”, they denounce in Basic Marea.

The groups involved in these lawsuits intend to repeat protests such as those held this Tuesday in Madrid, Córdoba, Mérida, Badajoz, Zaragoza, Teruel, Valencia, Lleida and Valladolid.

“The importance of not suffering it in silence”

“It is important because it is urgent. If you have to stand with a chair in the street, do it, and let everyone know that you are starving, no matter how ashamed you may be. You cannot make your suffering invisible. What worries me most The crisis is suffering in silence, the neighbor who is left alone at home with the problem. That is why the street is important, the fight in the street, “says Javier, a member of several groups, such as Stop Evictions.

Just when the protest in front of the headquarters of the Social Security in the Carabanchel neighborhood ends, a worker comes to the door:

“Let’s see, someone by appointment, please.”

Of the nine people waiting, one raises her hand. The others begin to speak at the same time, with questions and complaints.

“Calm down, please, one by one, patience,” the official replied kindly.

“Hunger does not end with patience,” murmurs a woman.

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