Social spending for families and children in Belgium represented 2.24% of GDP in 2011, for a total of 6.5 billion euros, according to figures on Belgian and European welfare systems from the Social Security ministry. This includes spending on family allowance, parental leave, day-care centres, home help, etc. Belgium’s spending matched the European average for 2011 (2.27% of GDP for EU15). Social spending in certain neighbouring and Scandinavian countries is higher than in Belgium – Denmark (4.09% of GDP), Luxemburg (3.65%), Ireland (3.40%), Finland (3.26%), Germany (3.14%), Sweden (3.10%) emphasising the results of the report.
The assumption is that in Belgium 16.7% of under-18s lived in a family below the poverty line in 2012, whereas the figure is 15% for the general population. Although the economic crisis had little impact on poverty levels in Belgium, the risk of youths falling into poverty has gone up slightly in recent years (in spite of a decrease observed between2011 and 2012, editor’s note), whereas the risk has gone down for senior citizens, according to the report.
The Social Security ministry reckons welfare protection clearly helps to protect children from poverty. The risk of families falling into poverty fell by 50% with the introduction of family allowances and tax benefits (going from 27% down to 15%). The drop in the risk of falling into poverty can be seen across the board, regardless of the number of children within a family. The drop is, however, most obvious for large families (the risk going from 30.1% to 13.4% for 3-children families, and from 59.3% to 29.2% for families with 3+ children) and for single-parent families (going from 60.0% to 40.1%°.
Lars Andersen (Source: Belga)