The opportunity for members of the public to receive CPAS (public welfare) benefits, is dependent upon the commune in which you live (a postcode lottery). This emerges from the “2017 Report on Poverty and Social Exclusion”, written by Antwerp University. The study authors argue that the procedures should be simplified, and caution against the system being privatized.
The study highlights that there are variations between communes as to the grant of CPAS benefits and allowances. It appears, “These variations are in particular age-related, but also linked to the size of the commune.” The study authors further stress, “In larger communes, the public seem to have less chance of receiving benefits, but also run the risk of receiving a given penalty in certain circumstances. Such a penalty will take the form of the loss of the particular benefit granted.”
The study authors argue, moreover, for a simplification of the benefit allocation procedure. The study suggests an almost automatic grant of benefits should be available for certain categories of people. These include the case of refugees who haven’t yet worked enough in Belgium, unemployed divorced women who have no job at the time of separation, young graduates or actual students who do not have financial help from their parents.
The report also warns against submitting social assistance to the market logic. The study highlights that 20.7% of the Belgian population currently live in poverty or are within socially excluded categories. Lone parent benefit is, according to this report, slightly below €900, or €220 below the poverty threshold.