One Belgian in 10 does without leisure activities or social relations for financial reasons, according to the EU Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) survey, published on Monday by the Belgian Statistical Office, Statbel. The survey, conducted among 6,000 Belgian households since 2004, measures material deprivation and the attendant inability to take certain actions, based on nine elements, including paying bills on time, having a complete meal at least every other day, taking a one-week vacation each year, and being able to defray unexpected expenses. The other elements are owning a telephone, a television, a washing machine and car, and having proper heating.
A person is in a situation of severe material deprivation if at least four of these elements are missing. In 2018, 5% of the Belgian population was in such a situation.
According to the survey, an unexpected expense of at least 1,100 euros is a major challenge for 24% of the population, while 23% cannot afford to take a vacation each year.
Some 12% of children under the age of 16 years cannot afford to take part regularly in leisure activities and 10% cannot spend a small sum of money for themselves each week.
Finally, 19% of Belgians live in a household that has a hard time balancing its budget.