For many Spaniards, everything now depends on the summer. When foreign tourists come back, there is work again. But the number of new contaminations is growing faster than the number of holidaymakers: this weekend, there were more than 300 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Only if the economy, which is heavily dependent on tourism, recovers quickly, can the poverty that has spread with the pandemic also decline.
This was particularly evident in Mallorca and its neighboring islands. According to calculations by the University of the Balearic Islands, more than a quarter of the population there lives in poverty. Before the start of the season, the lines in front of the food counters had become longer and longer.
Across Spain, the pandemic has caused poverty to reach a level that was not last seen during the great economic and financial crisis a good decade ago. Seven percent of all Spaniards were in “severe material deprivation” in 2020, as the National Statistics Office has now announced – a total of 3.3 million people. The year before the pandemic, it was 4.7%. The number of Spaniards who find it difficult to make ends meet, incur unforeseen expenses or go on vacation for at least one week a year has also increased, according to the annual “Living Conditions Survey”. The proportion of the population at risk of poverty or social exclusion rose to over 26% in Corona’s first year.
Public spending for families and children is low
Ten percent of the population struggled last year to get the money they had until the end of the month. Almost eleven percent could not afford to heat or cool their homes depending on the season. More than 13 percent were unable to pay their rent on time. Many children are feeling the economic consequences of the pandemic.
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“For months, I feared my daughter would open the fridge and it would be empty,” El País said, citing a single mother who was seriously ill last year and who lost her job. A good 14 percent of all Spaniards under the age of 18 – a total of over 740,000 – fall into the poverty category, according to the Spanish branch of the aid organization Save the Children. For example, you live in families that do not have enough money to eat meat or fish on a regular basis.
Save the Children criticizes the fact that public spending for families and children in Spain is low and inefficient compared to other EU countries. The new nationally guaranteed minimum income has also brought little relief. The payment is too slow and too bureaucratic, while Corona has increased the number of people in need, not only criticizing the children’s aid organization. According to the latest official figures available in May, aid has reached less than a third of the households it was intended for. That was only a good 260,000 of the 850,000 desired families.
Faced with the corona pandemic, the left-wing coalition, in power since early 2019, had advanced its campaign promise without apparently paying enough attention to its implementation. While national social assistance had long been introduced elsewhere in the EU, only a few Spanish regional governments had supported those in need.
In Spain, even before Corona, social inequalities and the risk of poverty were higher than in other EU countries. An important reason for this is the above average number of precarious and often very limited jobs, especially in the hotel and restaurant industry. Then, Covid further widened the gap between rich and poor. The latest figures also show that members of the middle class have been able to cushion the worst consequences with their own savings and short-time working benefits.
Hans-Christian Rößler, Madrid Posted / updated :, Recommended: 67 Hans-Christian Rößler, Madrid Posted / updated :, Recommended: 11 Timo Kotowski Posted / updated :, Recommended: 10
The severe economic crisis caused by the pandemic has contributed to the fact that more and more Spaniards are pessimistic about the future. According to a poll released a few days ago by the state polling institute CIS, nearly three-quarters of those polled believe that young people will later live worse than their parents. A spring study showed that more than 80 percent of this age group would be ready to go abroad if they found a job.