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The percentage of people in Portugal facing the risk of poverty increased to 17%.

According to the INE, 4.4 million individuals would face poverty if not for social security benefits.
Poverty in Portugal

While the media fixates on growing 'election fervor', the reality remains that the country is in dire need of change.

Throughout the eight years of PS Socialist rule – including four years in coalition with the radical left – there seems to be no discernible improvement in the country's social circumstances.

Persistent inequalities persist, with the number of citizens living in poverty remaining unchanged. According to INE statistics, the count of individuals at risk of poverty increased last year and would be significantly higher without social security benefits.

Yet, this isn't the only concern in a situation that seems perplexing despite the 'tsunami of funding' pledged by Brussels to bolster post-pandemic recovery and resilience.

A new type of violence against the offspring of impoverished parents is emerging, inflicted by the State itself.

Today, an article in Público sheds light on the issue that the housing crisis is leading to more children being separated from their parents. According to experts cited in the article, the real 'mistreatment' comes from politicians rather than the families themselves.

Other media outlets, echoing Público's concerns, emphasize that Portugal is failing to support families affected by housing insecurity. The growing risk of families losing their homes is leading to an increased likelihood of losing their children.

The affected families, primarily single-parent households in the Lisbon metropolitan area, are now under the scrutiny of child protection agencies—not due to the mistreatment of their children, but due to the lack of adequate housing.

Rute Silva from the Casa Para Viver platform, a movement advocating for the right to adequate housing, expressed to Antena 1 the distressing reality of children witnessing evictions and facing mistreatment due to housing insecurity. She stressed that this predicament is not the fault of the families but a result of the State's failure to provide viable alternatives.

According to Rute Silva, children and families should not bear the burden of politicians' inability to address structural housing issues. She emphasized that these families haven't acted wrongly; the problem lies in systemic issues—policies that restrict housing access.

Silva mentioned that some families hide their homelessness out of fear that authorities might take their children away, illustrating a distressing form of violence against children, as confirmed by Sofia Ramalho, president of the Order of Psychologists. Ramalho highlighted the struggle caused by low wages and high rents, leading many into a trap of housing instability.

Reports of employed individuals resorting to tents to make ends meet have become increasingly common. Recent storms near Lisbon displaced these individuals from their improvised housing solutions.

INE's statistics indicating a 17% rise in people at risk of poverty last year were highlighted by Lusa news agency, depicting a stark image of someone seated at a tent's entrance with a dog, symbolizing the harsh reality faced by many in poorer areas of Lisbon and Porto. Homelessness numbers have sharply risen, contradicting earlier promises to eradicate homelessness in Lisbon at the beginning of President Marcelo's tenure.

As of 2022, the National Statistics Institute (INE) reported that 1,775,514 individuals were considered 'in poverty' in Portugal, representing 17% of the population or roughly 1 in 5 people—a consistent figure over decades.

This designation of 'poverty' entails individuals with a net monetary income (per adult equivalent) below €591 per month, as per INE's definition. The at-risk-of-poverty rate experienced a more significant increase among women, rising to 17.7% in 2022 from 16.8% in 2021, compared to men, where it increased to 16.2% in 2022 from 15.9% in 2021.

Welfare benefits played a slightly reduced role in decreasing the risk of poverty, contributing 4.2 percentage points to the reduction in 2022, compared to 5.1 percentage points in 2021.

Highlighting the substantial impact of social security benefits, INE revealed that without these benefits, over 4.4 million individuals would be classified as poor, doubling the number of those already considered poor without this support.

The data stems from the most recent Living Conditions and Income Survey conducted in 2023, reflecting incomes from 2022. This survey indicated a rise in the 'poverty intensity rate' to 25.6%, marking an increase of 3.9 percentage points. It also emphasized the insufficient resources among the population living in poverty.

The year 2022 witnessed a surge in societal inequality, with key indicators of income distribution inequality increasing. Statistics revealed a rise in the proportion of households unable to afford necessary expenses or experiences: from being unable to replace used furniture (39.8%) to affording a week's holiday away from home (38.9%) and coping with unexpected expenses close to the monthly poverty line (30.5%).

Moreover, a significant percentage (20.8%) of people lived in households unable to keep their homes adequately warm and were unable to socialize regularly with family or friends due to financial constraints.

Source: LUSA/ Público

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