MADRID – Spain stands among the European nations with the highest rates of poverty, recent data from Eurostat reveals. A staggering one in four people in Spain face the risk of social exclusion.
Tied at 26% with Latvia, Spain ranks fourth in Europe for poverty levels, surpassed only by Romania, Bulgaria, and Greece. The increase in living costs has put particular pressure on lower-income households, resulting in a rise in poverty levels across many European nations.
Last year, 21.6% of the population across the European Union – a total of 95.3 million individuals – were at risk of poverty or social exclusion. This classification refers to those living in households grappling with at least one of the following three factors:
- risk of poverty
- severe material and social deprivation
- residing in a household with very low work intensity
Since 2020, Spain has Persistently Occupied Fourth Place
Despite consistently holding onto fourth place since 2020, Spain’s position on this unenviable league table has fluctuated over the years. It held the fifth spot in 2019 and the sixth in 2017 and 2018. Prior to this, it ranked fifth in 2016 and seventh in 2015.
Minimum Income Support
Despite an increase in the number of individuals turning to the Minimum Income Support (Ingreso Mínimo Vital) in recent months, only 20.8% of Spaniards living below the poverty line benefit from this aid. This low uptake is largely attributed to the high number of rejected applications. Although the rate of grant approvals increased in 2022, spurring the inclusion of new beneficiaries, the target of 2.3 million beneficiaries has still not been reached, more than three years after its implementation.
Currently, Minimum Income Support reaches 611,029 households – 1,752,467 individuals, including 755,752 minors – which implies that only 20.8% of the population below the poverty line in Spain have benefited from it. Thus, several years post-implementation, this aid has reached 76% of the intended beneficiaries, leaving more than 550,000 people yet to receive it, according to the Association of Directors and Managers of Social Services.
These figures cast a shadow over the Spanish government as economic pressure on low-income households intensifies. Social assistance programmes like Minimum Income Support are essential for supporting the most vulnerable citizens, yet the efficiency and effectiveness of the distribution and allocation of this aid remain an urgent concern.