“We have two girls aged 6 and 8. My husband is the family’s only breadwinner. He earns 525 euros per month. Our fixed monthly expenses, including rent, are 492 euros. That leaves us with only 33 euros to live on each month. We have to ask Caritas for support, such as for food and for help to pay some additional domestic expenses,” explains a 25 year old mother from Portugal.
Situations like this are a reality to many in Europe, as is shown in Caritas Europa’s new series of poverty monitoring reports. Composed of 21 reports from different Caritas organisations throughout the European Union (EU), the series highlights in-work poverty and long-term unemployment as today’s most worrying causes of inequality.
The series’ Portuguese report was launched in Lisbon by Caritas Portugal. This report finds that, in Portugal, changes to the award criteria of minimum income schemes have reduced the number of eligible beneficiaries, meaning that fewer people have access to adequate income support. At the same time, the reform of the labour market has increased job precariousness and deepened the effects of in-work poverty.
In addition, budget cuts have made some services inaccessible to many poor people with inland rural areas being particularly affected. To address these major poverty-related challenges, Caritas Portugal proposes that the country’s political leaders provide a minimum income for all in need, create decent jobs and ensure that the poorest have access to social services and that they are well informed of any new policy measures that can affect them.
These and findings from the series’ other national reports feed into the forthcoming European report, entitled “End poverty in Europe – Our solutions to make it happen”, which will be launched in mid-April 2016.
The European report compares concrete causes of poverty, inequality and exclusion rampant in European societies and formulates recommendations for policy-makers to address the causes. For example, in Austria, Bulgaria and Portugal, the amount of minimum income is too low to cover basic needs, even if combined with social benefits. In several countries, people at risk of poverty and social exclusion face difficulties in accessing services. In the Netherlands and Portugal, for example, waiting lists are long or there is not enough capacity to deal with demand. In Bulgaria, Italy, Portugal and Slovakia, quality services are found to be too far away to reach or to travel to.
To read more about the findings of Caritas in Portugal, download the English version of the report.
cover photo:getty/ Carl Court