Child poverty in Flanders on the rise

Child poverty figures keep going up. It seems the upward trend can't be reversed, at least not for the time being. In 2011, 9.7 percent of the Flemish children were born in an underprivileged family, compared to 8.2 percent in 2009. That's according to the so-called Poverty Barometer, which was presented today.

The figures were collected by Decenniumdoelen ("Decade goals"), an umbrella organisation that wants to cut poverty figures by 50 percent. The organisation set 6 aims in 2007, which should be completed by 2017, but this will most probably turn out to be impossible.

Poverty figures in general also give rise to concern. More people postpone health care treatments for financial reasons. For people living below the poverty threshold, this is 7.9 percent, the highest figure in years. It also turns out that more people are living in families where nobody has a paid job. As to social housing, the number of houses increased, but waiting lists remain too long.

When are you considered as poor?

The poverty threshold has been set at an income of 60 percent or less of the average income in your country or region. For a Flemish family with two children, this is 2,100 euros a month, for singles this is 1,000 euros.

Many unemployed people living on social benefits have to make ends meet with less than that. A living wage paid out by the local social service OCMW is set at 1,068 euros for a family with children, and at 800 euros for singles.