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Risk of poverty falls for the first time in years
According to the Federal Planning Bureau, by 2008 the number of persons at risk of poverty and social exclusion will have fallen by 104,000. And if the policy continues unchanged, the poverty risk percentage will fall from 21.1% to 16.1% by 2030. “The shift has started to take place: the risk of poverty is falling for the first time in years,” says Secretary of State for Poverty Reduction Elke Sleurs. “That means the image purposefully crafted to portray the present government as pushing people into poverty, is completely off base.”
The projection by the Planning Bureau confirms the numbers in the EU-SILC 2015 (European Union - Statistics on Income and Living Conditions), a survey into income and living conditions and an important tool for identifying poverty and social exclusion at both the Belgian and the European levels. According to this report, the general poverty risk percentage fell in 2015 by 0.6% compared with 2014, while child poverty fell by as much as 0.8% and poverty among the elderly by as much as 0.9%.
Structural poverty policy is working
At the start of this government at the end of 2014, the poverty statistics were at their highest level in years. For that reason this government opts to implement a structural poverty policy, aimed at job creation and raising the minimum social benefits. “We are now seeing the first results of this policy,” says Secretary of State Elke Sleurs. For example, since October 2014 no fewer than 64,700 additional jobs have been created, in particular in the private sector, and unemployment is at its lowest level in a quarter of a century. All wages have also been increased, which translates into a net increase of purchasing power among wage earners of 80 euros a month. 2.6 million non-wage earners also saw their purchasing power increase as a result of the revaluation of social benefits and the . The minimum pension rose considerably and the living wage was increased by 6%, which works out on an annual basis to 400 euros extra for cohabitants, 600 euros for persons living on their own and 800 euros for persons with dependent family members. “
“In no way do I see these initial numbers as a reason to break out the champagne. We still have a long way to go, especially when it comes to child poverty and poverty among single parents. However, these numbers do show that the government is on the right track with its policy aimed at fighting poverty,” Elke Sleurs concludes. “We will continue down this path. We are implementing the new Federal Plan for Combating Poverty, and together with the Regions and the Communities we will complete a new National Plan for Combating Child Poverty in 2017.”