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Around 15 pc Belgians on poverty line

Published on 06/06/2005

6 June 2005

BRUSSELS – More than 15 percent of Belgians are at risk of poverty, according to a new study.

‘Le Soir’ newspaper reported that 15.2 percent of the population lives in a household where the total annual income amounts to less than EUR 9,270.76.

That means the income is less than 60 percent of the national average, single occupancy household.

The survey by the federal service for the economy, SMEs, middle classes and energy, concludes that Belgians start to slip into poverty if their income is less than EUR 772.56 a month.

The average, single household has an income of EUR 1,422.81 per month and EUR 17,073.67 a year.

The figures, which were taken from 2003, were published under the title ‘European Statistics on Income and Living Conditions’ and collected from 6,000 households.

Those most exposed to the risk of poverty include the unemployed (32 percent of them), single parents (31.2 percent), those who rent (24.6 percent) and those older than 65.

Having a job is the best way to avoid the poverty trap, demonstrated the survey, with the risk limited to 6.4 percent. Property owners are also cushioned from poverty, with a risk of 12.4 percent.

Women are slightly more at risk from poverty than men, with a risk of 16.2 percent, compared to 14.2 percent.

The difference between the haves and have-nots is also illustrated by the survey, with the richest fifth of the population earning 4.3 times the income of the poorest 20 percent of the population.

Experts also assessed non-monetary indicators of poverty, such as the quality of a person’s home and the presence of basics such as hot water and heating and consumer goods like coloured TVs and computers.

According to the results, almost 80 percent of Belgians have homes equipped with all the basics, 87.4 percent have at least three-quarters of the consumer goods listed by the survey and 61.9 percent of households said they didn’t struggle to live within their means.

Social integration minister Christian Dupont said the survey results showed the importance of continuing to fight poverty in Belgium. He said the budget for his department would increase from 1 to 2 percent from 2006 to 2007.

He added that without Belgium’s social welfare system as much as 44 percent of the population would fall into the poverty trap.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news