The Covid-19 pandemic widened the social and economic gap in Spain. Data from the Survey of Living Conditions published by the National Statistics Institute (INE) in June 2022 show an increase of both poverty and inequality. In 2021, the Spanish population at risk of poverty or social exclusion increased to 27.8%, eight-tenths more than in 2020. In this sense, it is the worst figure since 2016.
In 2022, the at-risk-of-poverty threshold for one-person households – calculated using 2021 income data – stood at €9,535, 0.9% lower than estimated in the previous year. For households comprising two adults and two children under 14 years of age, this threshold was 20,024 euros. Regarding the average income per person, referring to 2021, it reached 12,269 euros, 0.2% less than the previous year.
In 2021, a total of 12,495,000 people, which represents 26.4% of the Spanish population, are living at Risk of Poverty and / or Social Exclusion (AROPE). The figure represents an increase of 1.1 percentage point and breaks the downward trend of the previous five years. The Living Conditions Survey for the year 2020, published in 2021, is the main source of data on Poverty and Social Exclusion. It only very partially reflects the enormous economic consequences suffered because of the pandemic. In this sense, the income data and, therefore, poverty, inequality and some others refer to the year 2019, that is, they do not expose the current situation and require the use of some indirect indicators.
Poverty Watch Main Findings
Most Affected Groups
Children & Young people
- Despite the great improvement of massive vaccination, the Covid-19 pandemic still poses an extraordinary challenge to public health. With the help of this experience, preparation for future epidemic shocks must be guaranteed, to protect the population in a diversity of situations.
- It is essential to ensure universal and free access to medical care and public health resources. Public administrations in all their strata must commit themselves in a reliable way to maintain this guaranteed, universal, and free access.
- A consolidated and universal health system is also essential if we want to build an inclusive society free of poverty and social exclusion. In addition to the “determinants of health” as understood by the National Health Survey of the National Institute of Statistics, there are other economic and social factors that are not being assessed (and should be taken into account), such as poverty and severe material deprivation; the effect of energy poverty and poor diet on health; the circumstances of children living in families that have been poor for more than one generation; involuntary loneliness; the accumulation of major problems in the family; addictions to legal gambling; anti-vaccination movements, among others.
- Any measure in the healthcare field that leads to breaking the principle of equal treatment and non-discrimination of migrants, especially those who are in an irregular situation, should be discarded and prohibited. It is crucial to eliminate those that still exist.
- Investment in public health must be reinforced to reverse these problems, solve the current crisis as adequately as possible and lay the foundations to prevent those to come.
- The employment situation of medical and health personnel must be protected and improved.
- Mental health and oral health should fully become part of the universal system. Resources and plans for mental and oral healthcare should be established. These plans should be quickly integrated into an updated healthcare portfolio with a comprehensive healthcare vision.
- Similar services must be guaranteed in all Autonomous Communities and facilities so that people can access medical care and specialists in other Autonomous Communities other than the one of residence.
- It is a priority to re-invest in disease prevention and address the consequences of the current pandemic.
- As the Final report of the United Nations Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty to Spain underlines, COVID-19 has revealed major flaws in public policies to combat poverty in Spain. The data from the Living Conditions Survey certify the need to continue promoting and defining measures such as the Ingreso Mínimo Vital, placing the benefit above the poverty threshold, as well as its coverage so that it reaches all the people who need it. Therefore, it is crucial to fully develop the protective capacity of this minimum income scheme in terms of accessibility, coverage, adequacy and enabling capacity.
- EAPN has consistently worked on the topic of decent wages, and this mainly since 2010 in the framework of a long-standing thematic focus on fighting in-work poverty and promoting quality jobs and employment as part of integrated active inclusion policies. One key insight guiding EAPN’s policy and advocacy work is that not any job is a sure route out of poverty and that many people are in employment, but still face financial hardship and/or social exclusion. A second main guiding theme for EAPN is that, for employment to fulfil its role of effectively shielding people from a life in poverty, it needs to fulfil a set of quality criteria. Broadly in line with trade union requests, for EAPN quality jobs are those with decent standards on pay and other work-related benefits, decent working conditions, good health and occupational safety protection, and access to lifelong learning and career prospects. Therefore, EAPN has consistently called for an EU framework on minimum wages which follows these criteria.
- Under Key Principle number six, which deals with wages, the European Pillar of Social Rights lays down the following three commitments: one, the right of workers “to fair wages that provide for a decent living standard”; two, the commitment to ensure “adequate minimum wages … in a way that provide for the satisfaction of the needs of the worker and his / her family”; and three, the commitment to prevent “in-work poverty”. Minimum Wages are key for ensuring fair working conditions and decent living standards for all workers in the EU. They are essential to protect low-wage workers and to prevent in-work poverty. It is crucial to protect income from employment and grant that jobs are decent and provide sufficient income, so that a decent standard of living can be maintained. With the current long-term unemployment rates, it is essential to promote active policies in favor of people with a greater risk of exclusion from the labor market, also counting on market reserve contracts. Measures must be established against precarious and ultra-precarious employment, the abusive use of “scholarships” and false self-employment, formats that promote the existence and growth of the rate of poor workers and job insecurity. The conciliation between care (of children and adults) and employment must be widespread, effective and affordable.
- The pension system should provide an adequate standard of living. Social protection and, particularly, the pension system are key Welfare State’s hallmarks in Spain. At least three aspects that require corrective measures are the outdated amounts with respect to the CPI, the feminization of the lower amounts and the negative impact on rural areas (51% of people over 65 years of age live in municipalities with less 1,000 inhabitants and 74% in those with less than 100 inhabitants).
- Income guarantee policies should contemplate corrective actions for gender inequality. Women are more affected by lower wages, involuntary part-time hours, the wage gap with respect to men and the greater dedication of time to reproductive care, all of which have an impact on their lower income in the active and active ages. passive. Income guarantee policies must introduce mechanisms to promote and monitor equal opportunities and non-discrimination.
- The authorities, social actors and civil society organizations must put an end to the expansion of discrimination, which is spread to other sociodemographic characteristics, such as age, nationality, ethnic origin, disability, family situation, sexual orientation, rurality, among other factors, as it is provoking increasing inequalities in the labour market, in household income and in access to opportunities.
In Spain, the different manifestations of poverty and social exclusion are a shortage of income, lack of decent housing, material deprivation, more difficult educational and healthcare paths due to hardships, poverty of families living in disadvantaged environments, and limited or truncated access to basic services. In 2019, a total of 11,875,000 people, which represents 25.3% of the Spanish population, are at risk of poverty and / or social exclusion.
Poverty Watch Main Findings
Most affected groups
Young people & children
The unemployed & with low-education
– Preparation for future epidemic shocks must be guaranteed, in better conditions to protect the population in the diversity of
situations that exist.
– Ensure universal and free access to medical care and health and public health resources.
– A consolidated and universal health system is also essential.
– Mental health and oral health should fully become part of the universal healthcare system.
- Income protection:
– Minimum Vital Income
– Ensuring fair working conditions and decent living standards for all workers & reduce in-work poverty.
– Income guarantee policies should contemplate corrective actions for gender
- Sustainability, digitalisation
– It is utterly important to develop skills to embrace the digital economy in the labour market.
– We must also demand the responsibility of the authorities in
the defence and protection of non-renewable and renewable natural
resources, both in Spain and abroad, increasing technological investment for
innovation and the creation of new jobs with this perspective.
La Red de Lucha contra la Pobreza y Exclusión Social en el Estado Español
Calle Tribulete, 18 28012 Madrid
Tel: +34 917 860 411
E-mail: eapn (@) eapn.es