Poverty in Spain: nearly a million more affected

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Poverty in Spain - Oxfam report
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Oxfam: Covid-19 creates greater poverty in Spain

The pandemic could push one million extra people in Spain below the poverty line. This is how Oxfam concluded its annual report. Poverty in Spain could grow to 22.9% of the population.

The international organisation Oxfam warns of the growing inequality in Spain, which is strongly affected by the pandemic. Before the Covid crisis, 20.7% of Spaniards lived below the poverty line; meaning they have to get by on €24 a day or less. Oxfam expects this percentage to rise to 22.9%.

The largest percentage increases occur in La Rioja, the Balearic Islands and Navarra. In absolute numbers, the most people living in poverty are in Andalucia, Madrid and Catalonia.

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Inequality even greater in Spain due to pandemic

Oxfam CEO Franc Cortada says the pandemic further exposes the extreme inequality in Spain: “Without adequate help, Spain is at serious risk that these differences will persist forever. The poor are getting poorer and the rich are recovering faster from the crisis.” Relatively speaking, the poorest people in Spain have lost up to seven times more income than the wealthier Spaniards.

Government measures in Spain are not all effective

Oxfam evaluated the Spanish government measures. The ERTE schemes have saved some 710,000 people from poverty. However, the results following the introduction of the minimum income are not as expected. Only 160,000 of the planned 850,000 households were able to receive it. Its implementation must be “urgently improved,” said Oxfam. Proper implementation of this measure could have prevented poverty for 277,000 people; and 230,000 people would no longer have to live below the poverty line.

Inequality has mainly widened among migrants, young people and women. The poverty rate among migrants is 57%; a significant difference to the 22.9% for the Spanish population overall.

Solutions to Poverty in Spain according to Oxfam

To turn this tide, Oxfam is proposing a change in employment policy to replace the ERTE. Oxfam also recommends expanding the group of people who are eligible for the minimum income. Further, Oxfam proposes tax reforms that will better protect part-time workers, self-employed workers and vulnerable target groups such as homeworkers and migrants.

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