In 2017, some 5% of Belgium’s population faced a situation of severe material deprivation, and 21% said they had a hard time making ends meet, according to the latest annual living conditions survey by the Belgian statistics office, Statbel, published on Thursday. “Generally, the poverty situation in Belgium is stable,” a Statbel spokeswoman commented.
The EU Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) survey provides statistics for all EU member countries. Statbel is in charge of the Belgian section of the survey, but the methodology is harmonized for all the countries concerned.
According to the first indicators published on Thursday, five out of every 100 Belgians are unable to pay bills such as rent, water and electricity on time. Six out of every 100 cannot afford to buy a car and the same percentage cannot afford to heat their homes properly. For 25% of Belgians, unforeseen expenditure of at least 1,100 euros or an annual, one-week vacation outside the home is impossible.
On the other hand, fewer than one percent say they are forced to do without a telephone or television.
In total, 5% of Belgians can be considered to be living in severe poverty, down from 6% in 2016, but, generally, there has not been any marked change in the statistics in recent years, a Statbel spokeswoman told the Belga news agency.
A significant portion of the population also has to do without more secondary goods or activities: no fewer than 21% of Belgians live in households that said they found it hard to make ends meet because of their income. “Since the start of the crisis in 2008, this subjective poverty has never gone back under the 20% bar,” Statbel said.
About 6,000 Belgian households were interviewed for the survey.