The number of Spaniards living in severe poverty has doubled to 3 million since the economic crisis erupted in 2008, according to a report released by the Caritas charity, taking as poverty line those who live on less than 307 €euros (414 dollars) a month.
The Catholic Church organization also warned that poverty is becoming chronic, as one third of the 1.3 million people it helped in 2012 had been relying on charity handouts for more than three years.
When looking at the overall number of poor people in Spain, the figure is even higher. The National Institute of Statistics (INE) has reported earlier that nearly 13% of Spanish households last year had great difficulties to make ends meet every month.
The report blamed the poverty problem mainly on the high unemployment rate of 26% as well as on social benefit cuts imposed by the government.
In addition, the Caritas charity said that not only is poverty increasing in the country, but the gap between classes are widening on a permanent basis as well.
The report showed the richest 20% in Spain controlled 7.5 times more wealth than the poorest 20%, describing the wealth gap as the widest in Europe.
The report came just one day after Europe’s main human rights watchdog warned that Spain’s austerity program could have a devastating impact on children, as cuts have increased child poverty, malnutrition, and inadequate housing.
Nils Muiznieks, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner, said on October 9 that child poverty in Spain rose to 30% in 2011 and that cuts by the Spanish government in the sectors of welfare, health, and education have left some children homeless and malnourished.
Battered by the global financial downturn, the Spanish economy collapsed into recession in the second half of 2008, leaving over 26% of the working force out of a job. But for the younger generation, 16 to 28 years old, the blow is even more devastating: 53% are unemployed.