Spain is the third country in the European Union with the highest rate of risk of poverty and social exclusion for children, with 31.3%, only behind Romania and Bulgaria, according to the Save The Children report Ensuring the future of children: how to end child poverty and social exclusion in Europe. According to the study, one out of every three Spanish boys and girls lives below the poverty line (60% of the median of national income), suffers from severe material deprivation or lives in households with low employment intensity.
The Government prepares a plan against child poverty with a historic investment of more than 527 million
The document, which analyzes 14 European countries, reveals that no country on the continent is free from child poverty. According to Save The Children, almost 20 million children throughout Europe live in a situation of poverty or social exclusion, a figure that had been reduced in recent years but which has increased again in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The organization indicates that before the crisis, 18 million children, approximately one in four, grew up at risk of poverty or social exclusion throughout the EU and after COVID-19 the figure has reached 20 million, it may still increase more if urgent measures are not taken.
The report confirms that nearly 40% of children at risk of poverty in Spain come from families with jobs, which, according to the NGO, refutes the myth that employment is a guarantee of not growing up in poverty. In addition, those who grow up in single or large families, of migrant origin, with disabilities, belonging to an ethnic minority and from rural or disadvantaged areas are among the most affected by poverty.
Limited access to education 0-3
The report also shows that millions of children across Europe do not have or have limited access to education from 0 to 3 years and early care, “often of low quality”, and warns that there are “millions of children and girls “who can’t even eat a healthy meal every day.
The NGO appeals to the Government to extend the dining room scholarships, which only reach 11% of boys and girls in compulsory education in our country, far from the 27.4% of boys and girls who are in a situation of poverty, according to figures from the report. In addition, the coverage is very uneven in the Spanish territory: 2% of the boys and girls in the Region of Murcia access this scholarship, in Melilla it is 18% and in the Valencian Community and in the Canary Islands, 25%.
In this sense, it warns that poverty is one of the risk factors that explain the high levels of obesity and overweight in childhood in Spain: obesity doubles in families with less than 18,000 euros a year of income compared to those of more than 30,000 euros.
Save the Children proposes the introduction of an amendment to the General State Budget bill that expands the provision of meals aid by 100 million euros and promotes access to free school meals until reaching all children in four years and girls below the poverty line, agreeing the latter as the minimum state income threshold to access these aid.
Children without adequate housing
It also analyzes the organization’s study of access to adequate housing, which, it warns, can have adverse health, social and developmental consequences throughout the lives of children. In Spain there is hardly any social housing, the percentage of the total park being “one of the lowest in Europe”, he says. In addition, it adds that “homelessness, living in inadequate and overcrowded conditions or the risk of eviction is the daily reality of most children who face poverty in Europe.”
Save the Children considers that the development of the Child Guarantee Action Plan in Spain It is an important opportunity to tackle child poverty and asks the Government to adopt a comprehensive approach to address social inequalities, also investing in the redesign of the Spanish tax system so that it works in favor of families with children in poverty.
Likewise, it calls for an increase in direct economic aid to children and families since, according to it, aid for upbringing is currently among the lowest in the EU, and demands to continue reinforcing the Minimum Living Income so that, together with the regional minimum income, it reaches families in a situation of poverty and not only in a situation of severe poverty.