Big rise in minimum subsistence payments claimants

The number of people in Belgium in receipt of minimum subsistence payments was 9% higher in the first two months of this year than it was during the same period last year.

That’s according to new figures from the Federal Social Integration Service. A record 139,412 people in Belgium have to make ends meet with minimum subsistence payments.

Around half of the increase can be explained by the asylum crisis. Asylum-seekers that arrived in 2015 are now filtering though into the figures as they gain refugee status.

In addition to this a growing number of school leavers, unemployed people and single mums are putting in requests for minimum subsistence payments with their local social services councils.

In addition to this the reform of the rules governing entitlement to unemployment benefit has served to push up the figures. Finally, a growing number of students are claiming minimum subsistence payments.

Refugees make up 16% of claimants

Currently refugees make up 16% of all minimum subsistence payments claimants.

On average they claim for twice as long as Belgians do, quite often as they need to learn the local language before they are able to find work.

Refugees living on minimum subsistence payments tend to be concentrated in the big cities, while they would often be better off in smaller municipalities.