Over 25% of Flemish people feel poor, or relatively poor, according to tv channel VTM’s Grote Geldenquête (the Big Money Survey). Almost 5% of the 1000 respondents cannot make ends meet at the end of the month (classified by the survey as poor), while 22% only just barely manages (classified as relatively poor).
The survey does not focus on salaries or statistics but gauges how people manage their daily lives. For example, one in five Flemish people postpone doctor’s visits for financial reasons, and one in ten sometimes skips a meal because there is not enough money.
Women, single people, the elderly and people without higher education are more strongly represented in this group than men, cohabiting couples, young people and the higher educated.
“The figures confirm what we have felt for some time now: the group that is at risk for poverty is getting bigger,” said David de Vaal of the Network against Poverty in Het Laatste Nieuws.
“This is a serious problem,” said vice prime minister Kris Peeters (CD&V) to VTM. He said the federal government has made a lot of efforts, including in terms of living wages, minimum wages and benefits. “We have done everything we could,” he added. However, he also said that the future Flemish and federal government “must make clear agreements for a more coordinated approach.”
John Crombez (sp.a) is not surprised by the figures. According to him, they only confirm that more and more people have problems paying their bills. “The problem is that people like Kris Peeters have all these statistics, but they do not look at the people. Ministers continue to say that there is no problem, while people can no longer make ends meet. All essential bills have gone up,” he added in Het Laatste Nieuws.