More children growing up in poverty in Flanders

Wednesday, 13 June 2018 10:26
More children growing up in poverty in Flanders ©Belga
A record number of children in Flanders were born last year into poverty, in most cases as a result of low incomes and/or unemployment of their parents, according to an annual register compiled by the family organisation Kind & Gezin.
Family poverty in 2017 touched 13.76 of all infants aged up to three years – 1% more than in 2016. The problem is most prominent in the 13 “centre cities” such as Sint-Niklaas, where the rate went up from 19.6% to 22%, and in Turnhout where the rate has gone up 3.8% to 27.3%.

“There are limits to what we can do about poverty,” said Kris Van der Coelden, chair of the social aid agency OCMW in Sint-Niklaas. “We can come up with solutions here and there, for example by building more social housing, but other essential measures like strengthening rental laws or freezing rents are beyond us.”

According to poverty experts like Wim Van Lancker of the university of Leuven, the government needs to take a structural approach, including policy on the labour market and the rental housing market. “Here is where the Flemish and the federal governments are responsible, but as far as actions are concerned, they’ve failed miserably,” he told De Morgen.

Last year also saw a record number of families unable to pay their energy bills, the Flemish regulator Vreg revealed. 2017 saw an increase of 20% in the number of repayment plans set up, following  an increase in 2016 of 25%.

The repayment plan allows energy consumers in financial difficulties to pay off their debts over time, while agreeing to measures to limit their ongoing consumption with the use of budget meters for electricity and gas.

In most cases, the agreement on a payment plan puts a stop to the procedure to cut off electricity supplies. In comparison to an increase of 20% in families unable to pay, the number of those whose supply was cut off rose by only 3% in 2017, Vreg said.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times
Google Plus

More Stories

Khashoggi fallout: Arms license applications to be examined “with the greatest circumspection”

Khashoggi fallout: Arms license applications to be examined “with the greatest circumspection”

As the outpouring of condemnations continues over two weeks after the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi following a visit to Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, Wallonia’s Government - owner of FN Herstal which sells arms to Riyadh - says it will examine future applications for arms licenses “with the greatest circumspection”.

German “abattoir of horrors” supplied Belgian market

German “abattoir of horrors” supplied Belgian market

On Thursday, the animal welfare organization, Animal Rights, asserted that a German abattoir, forced to close last week due to animal abuse, was also selling its meat on the Belgian market.

Speed checks: less than 3% of drivers found to be driving too fast

Speed checks: less than 3% of drivers found to be driving too fast

The institute Vias, and the police, indicated on Friday that less than 3% of drivers speed-checked on Wednesday and Thursday were found to be driving too fast.