During the year, almost 100,000 children lived in extreme poverty in Poland, ie on the “border of the minimum subsistence level”. The problem affects not only children but also adults, and is exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, among others. Material of the magazine “Polska i Świat”.
Professor Ryszard Szarfenberg informs that two million Poles live on the “borderline of the subsistence minimum” – including 410,000 children and 312,000 seniors. These are the numbers revealed in the new one report of the Polish Committee of the European Anti-Poverty Network. – Increases in percentage terms that is exactly one percentage point more in the case of child poverty and extreme poverty in general – explains Prof. Ryszard Szarfenberg.
Compared to the previous report the number of extremely poor Poles increased by almost 380,000. In such a situation, 98,000 children were added, and 49,000 seniors. – We can still see that it affects the same social groups – points out Karolina Banaszek from the Central Statistical Office. – We are talking about households that live off social benefits. These are also pensioners and still large families – he adds.
What is extreme poverty?
Extreme poverty is defined on the basis of the so-called “subsistence level”. Last year, it was PLN 640 for a one-person household. For parents and two children under 14 – it was PLN 1727.
What these numbers mean in practice is best known to employees of foundations that help the poor. Every year in November, Szlachetna Paczka creates its “Report on Poverty”. – It is not just that there are no shoes for winter, but there is also no money for food and, for example, to live with dignity – explains Joanna Sadzik, president of the Spring Association.
Extreme poverty is also seen closely by employees of food banks. – It is very often a matter of dignity, because often people who are really poor do not see it, because at the moment we have the opportunity to buy cheap clothes, but in fact, if we have four zlotys for our daily life, it causes a mental block – he says attention of Łukasz Jaroń from the Food Bank in the Tri-City.
Impact of the pandemic on the rise in extreme poverty
What is invariably conducive to falling into poverty is lack of education, disability, unemployment and rising prices, and more recently a pandemic – though not as much as experts initially predicted, expecting greater unemployment from lockdowns. – Despite this, a large part of families had lower earnings, some people lost their jobs, so there were factors that are usually attributed to the increase in poverty – emphasizes prof. Ryszard Szarfenberg.
The family minister also referred to the pandemic when asked about the numbers from the new report. “The increase in extreme poverty is temporary and related to the pandemic. The freezing of the economy influenced the amount of expenditure incurred by households, and it is on this basis that the risk of extreme poverty index is calculated” – says Marlena Maląg.
Experts explain that this could be the case if the increase in extreme poverty was related only to “covid” factors. But it’s not like that. – There are other factors that are worrying us, the main one being inflation. We know that the government did not decide to valorize the child benefit, i.e. 500 plus, and did not decide to valorize family benefits – points out Prof. Ryszard Szarfenberg. This means that their amount has not changed since 2016, although products and services have become more expensive since then.
Main photo source: concrete24