Spain: Poverty up 50 Per Cent Since 2018 as Pandemic Adds Economic Problems

ZARAGOZA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 25: Carlos Miguel Moreira sitting in the streets of the centre of Zaragoza looking for donations and charity with a sign that says "Please help me to eat" on December 25, 2020 in Zaragoza, Spain. A new level of poverty has affected countries across Europe from …
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Six million people in Spain are in severe poverty, a figure that has increased by 50 per cent since 2018 as the pandemic fuels even more economic problems for Spaniards.

The coronavirus pandemic has had a profound effect on Spanish people, with at least 58 per cent of households struggling to make ends meet and cover their expenses, while an estimated six million people live in poverty, up 50 per cent since 2018.

According to a report from the newspaper La Vanguardia, the situation would have been far worse if not for government benefits helping to prop up households such as the Temporary Employment Regulation File (ERTE), which was extended another five months in late September.

Those most affected by the pandemic crisis have been large families and single parents, particularly single mothers, as well as those from immigrant backgrounds, according to a study released by Caritas and the FOESSA Foundation.

At least 25 per cent of households in Spain are experiencing major hardships in terms of employment as landing a well-paying job in Spain has become more difficult during the pandemic. Insufficient wages have also led to 24 per cent of households struggling to cover all of their utility bills and of those that do, 14 per cent are left in poverty.

The study also notes growing social exclusion during the pandemic, a phenomenon that was recently highlighted by a French study among seniors that revealed as many as half a million French seniors live in a state of “social death”, rarely seeing or interacting with others.

The association Les Petits Frères des Pauvres (the Little Brothers of the Poor) published the study and stated that the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns had “accelerated the elderly who had a fragile relational fabric into intense isolation”.

Energy poverty is also looming on the horizon for many in Europe this winter as energy prices are rising in many parts of the continent. Alexandre Viviers, an energy expert at Sia Partners, stated that some vulnerable Europeans may have to choose between heating their home and eating.

“You have people who face important consumption levels, which they have difficulty paying for,” Viviers said and added: “You will have other households who will self-deprive and turn off the heat, for instance, if they still want to be able to eat. So you will meet different forms of energy poverty.”

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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