More than one in five Belgian residents (20.3%) cannot afford at least one week's holiday away from home, according to the first results of the Survey on Income and Living Conditions in 2021 (EU-SILC).
In Flanders, it concerned 13.2% of the population, but in Wallonia (30.6%) and the Brussels-Capital Region (28.2%) the rates were as high as nearly one-third of the population, stated the Belgian Statistical Office Statbel.
"The most vulnerable groups to 'material and social deprivation' are the unemployed, tenants, Belgians living in single-parent families and those on the lowest incomes," the office reports, based on a survey of 7,500 households.
6.3% of the Belgian population is even faced with a situation of "severe material and social deprivation." This is measured using a new European indicator ('severe material and social deprivation' or SMSD), which considers 13 material possessions or social actions. Those who cannot afford at least seven of those items for financial reasons are called "severely material and socially deprived."
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In addition to being unable to take a week's holiday away from home per year, the survey looked at whether people's ability to make payments on time; eat meat, chicken or fish at least every second day; make an unexpected expense; afford their own car; properly heat the house; replace damaged or worn furniture; replace worn-out clothes with new ones; have two pairs of shoes in good condition (one of which must be a closed pair – ie. not flip-flops); have internet access at home; meet friends or family at least once a month for a meal or drink; participate in leisure activities such as sport, cinema, concerts regularly; spend a sum of money each week for personal needs.
The number of people unable to cover an unexpected expense was particularly high, ranging from 14% in Flanders to 32,9% in Wallonia and even 35,7% in Brussels, reports Statbel.