Permanently choose from the basics. “Make a gradation between essential needs. Between food and heat, between culture and diapers, between computer and shoes.” It is the position to understand how people in severe poverty live that the European Network to Combat Poverty and Social Exclusion (EAPN) launches in its latest study, which tries to bring closer the reality faced by 4.5 million people in Spain. Their average income per person per year is 2,471 euros, five times less than the rest of the population, of 13,325 euros per year.
Spain faces the pandemic with a large ‘bag’ of precarious: “It is a nightmare not knowing if you will be able to pay the rent next month”
The NGO platform against poverty has published this Friday the report ‘The map of severe poverty in Spain. The landscape of abandonment ‘, which tries to bring closer a reality that is more widespread than is believed and that is increasing. Not only due to the pandemic, whose effects are yet to be seen, but it was already increasing in previous years, which were marked by a context of economic improvement.
Living in severe poverty is, by definition, subsisting on an income lower than 40% of the median income of the population. In 2020, in Spain it meant that “each person must survive with less than 281 euros per month in the case of a family with two adults and two minors, and with less than 535 euros per month if they live alone,” the study explains.
Far from the stereotype of poverty as that which affects only the homeless or living in indigence, severe poverty reaches many more people. Specifically, 9.5% of the population in Spain. That is, to about 4.5 million people in 2020. “This figure is three tenths higher than the previous year, which, together with the population increase, represents an increase of some 178,000 new people in severe poverty”, figure The report.
By breaking false imaginations, homelessness only reaches “4.8% of people in severe poverty”, the study states: “A homeless person is in severe poverty, however, almost never a person in severe poverty is a person homeless”. Dismantling stereotypes is important to know the extent of poverty, but also to be able to combat it, they insist from social groups.
On average, their annual income per person is 2,471 euros, with which they have to balance to make ends meet. With such limited income, you ‘get there’ because you cut back on the basics. The indispensable, like a healthy diet, becomes expendable. You have to choose. “15.5% of people in severe poverty cannot afford a meal of meat, chicken or fish or their equivalent in vegetable proteins, every two days”, exemplifies the study. The data is double what it was ten years ago.
Poverty thus makes many citizens detach from their social environment because “their economic, social and cultural resources are so limited that they exclude them from the way of life that is considered acceptable in the society in which they live.”
The study shows this shortage through the indicator of ‘severe material deprivation’. Through nine variables that measure deficiencies in certain aspects or consumer goods that are considered basic, such as paying bills and keeping the house at an adequate temperature, it is determined that this serious deprivation exists when deficiencies are faced in “at least four of nine items “. One in four (26.7%) people in severe poverty are in this situation. Five times more than the rest of the population (5%).
We still do not know the consequences of the pandemic
The NGO Network warns that the number of people in severe poverty will increase due to COVID, but it is not yet known how much. Some data is already available that indicates that the pandemic has worsened the economic vulnerability of many households, but the greater increase in poverty will be reflected next year in the 2021 Survey of Living Conditions, they indicate in the EAPN, because then already 2020 household income will be taken into account.
“The effect of the spread of the virus should be more noticeable in the extent of severe poverty than in its intensity,” the study predicts. In other words, it will be noticed more in the increase of people who “will fall” into severe poverty than in the worsening of their situation.
The NGOs highlight the buffering effect that the “social shield” approved by the Government during the pandemic has had, with protection measures such as ERTE, moratoriums on the payment of rents or the prohibition of cutting supplies, among others. They also ask that it be maintained over time to sustain the delicate situation faced by many families, on the edge of poverty.
Because ‘falling’ in situations of serious economic difficulty has a rapid decline, but a difficult comeback. “Historical data show that recovery is never for everyone and that it is easier to get into poverty than to get out of it,” laments the report, which also recalls that poverty “tends to be sustained over time and to be replicated from parents to children. “.
The NGOs therefore demand that the Government reinforce its social shield, with holes in protection of the right to housing and in the deployment of the minimum vital income, for instance. “The consensus on the need to apply social protection policies is broad,” the study states. “There are strategies,” he contemplates, but they must be applied.