One in seven Belgians go hungry because of financial issues, says survey

One in seven Belgians go hungry because of financial issues, says survey
Volunteers at work in the foodbank, in Ghent. Credit: Belga / Nicolas Maeterlinck

One in seven Belgians say that they have skipped a meal within the last two weeks because of financial problems, according to the “Grand Barometer” survey run jointly by RTL Info, Ipsos, and Le Soir.

The survey, which was conducted over the space of a week among 2,552 Belgians from across the country, asked locals about their financial situation, as well as their quality of life. The data shows that Belgians are increasingly concerned about their finances and are supportive of bringing about greater change to support the needy.

Notably, 13% of the respondents admitted that they had skipped a meal within the last two weeks, 12% stated that they had been hungry but had not eaten, and a further 7% went a whole day without eating.

Belgians are increasingly worried about their purchasing power. 55% of Belgians fear for their purchasing power against the backdrop of record-high inflation and rising energy prices. 31% are concerned about their taxes, 29% about poverty and social equality, 22% about climate change, and 17% about immigration control.

Pessimism across the country is growing, according to statistics published by Le Soir. 47% of Belgians now believe that their current financial situation has deteriorated over the last six months. These feelings are most pronounced in Wallonia and the Brussels-Capital region (51%), than in the comparatively richer Flanders (45%).

Another large quantity of the respondents (46%) state that their situation has hardly changed since the end of last year, mostly in Flanders. For most, this last month has been the most challenging and majority of respondents say that making ends meet has been “fairly difficult.”

Energy is most commonly cited as the reason for deteriorating household spending. 38% worry about not being able to pay their bills on time, including nearly 49% of Brussels residents, however this statistics has improved since the spring. Nevertheless, 60% of respondents continue to struggle with their financial situation.

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Belgians are tightening their belts. They are postponing major purchases (56%), cutting back on leisure expenses (55%), and driving less and buying less fuel (54%). French speaking regions are also giving up on their hobbies.

By and large, Belgians are at a loss about how to protect their purchasing power. Over half of Walloons don’t know what to do, versus 48% of Flemish respondents. Of the proposals on offer, Belgians in all regions of the country are most supportive of progressive, left-wing taxation on the “super-rich” (86%), as well as new taxes on large polluting companies (91%).

Belgians oppose new taxes on their everyday purchases. Only 11% were in favour of increasing VAT to 22% and displayed mixed feelings about increasing taxes on rental incomes.

A similar study conducted by Le Vif and Knack supports the Grand Barometer's findings. According to the newspapers, 39% of Belgians rank purchasing power as their top concern. Similarly, 62% believe that their purchasing power will not rise anytime soon.

On June 16, experts delivered their recommendations to the Federal Government on how to tackle rapidly declining purchasing power. They suggest levying less taxes on energy, limiting energy consumption, and indexing incomes earlier.

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