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    Benefits paid will not equate to the poverty threshold

    © Belga
    Zuhal Demir is clear that bringing benefits up to the European poverty threshold level will be an impossibility for the foreseeable future.
    © Belga

    Short of a gift from heaven, the lowest benefit payments will not reach the European poverty threshold during this parliament. This was indicated by the Secretary of State for Poverty Reduction, Zuhal Demir, in the Sunday broadcast of De Zevende Dag on VRT.

    Under the federal government’s agreement, the Michel cabinet committed in 2014 to “progressively [bringing] minimal social security benefits and social assistance up to the European poverty threshold level.” On Sunday, Zuhal Demir indicated that the New Flemish Alliance, MR, CD&V and Open Vld partners would not achieve this.

    She highlighted, “I made a promise in February.” She succeeded Elke Sleurs in this role. She said, “Given the scale of the road which must be travelled to reach the European poverty threshold in this regard, I said then that I would do my best. However, let’s be honest and not paint the impossible as exceedingly rosy. It will not be possible to achieve this outcome in two and a half years.”

    Moreover, the Secretary of State considers that, in the past, too much emphasis was placed on the advantages of the vehicles enabling the fight against poverty. The New Flemish Alliance Secretary of State says, “The priority is on the employment market. Amongst workers, the risk of poverty is limited to 4 or 5%.”

    She said, we must consequently place more emphasis upon economic stimulation. In addition to that, we must consider further measures such as those enabling the support of single mothers.

    Lars Andersen
    The Brussels Times