More than 120,000 families in the Canary Islands have all their members unemployed. It is one of the conclusions of the IX Foessa Report on Exclusion and Social Development in Canary Islandswhich was presented this Thursday in La Laguna (Tenerife). The document confirms that social exclusion has widened in the Canary Islands as a whole, which today affects 29.1% of the inhabitants of the autonomous community, which means that 630,000 people are in a situation of “significant disadvantage”. More serious is the increase in the group of the most fragile increases by 15% in situations of severe exclusion and reaches to more than 300,000 people, that is to say, that the people in the most critical situations already represent almost half of the people present in the space of social exclusion.
The Foessa Report is a tool that x-rays reality on the islands from the view of the most vulnerable people. “A necessary effort to talk about employment beyond the unemployment rate, to talk about social exclusion beyond economic poverty”, clarifies Daniel Rodríguez de Blas, technician of the Study Team and the FOESSA Foundation of Cáritas Española.
It is necessary to underline that the levels of monetary poverty and inequality are high and persistent for many Canarian families. However, although in recent years the distance with Spain has been reduced, rates of poverty They continue to be higher in the Archipelago than those registered in the state as a whole and affect, in its most severe version, nearly 425,000 Canarians (19.6% in the Canary Islands versus 11.3% in Spain). The social distancing measures to combat the pandemic have brought with them a digitization that is revealing itself as a new exclusion factor: the digital divide, which affects 30% of Canarian households and, to a greater extent, severely excluded households. , since 44% of these households do not have access to the digital world.
According to the data collected in the report, this crisis is further “feminizing” the space of exclusion, since in 2021 the gap between households headed by men and those headed by women has increased notably and as a result, 28% of households whose main breadwinner is a woman are in a situation of exclusion compared to 22% where the breadwinner is a man.
The second gap refers to the origin. The data concludes that being a foreigner in the Archipelago is a huge disadvantage, since Nearly half of the households headed by a person of foreign origin (47%) are in a situation of exclusion; this means almost twice the exclusion than in households headed by someone of Spanish nationality, which draws a new line of exclusion in this “fractured society”.
These are profiles that the FOESSA Foundation has been drawing for some time as disadvantaged groups, but on this occasion a new one must be added: being young, one in three young people between the ages of 19 and 29 are affected by processes of social exclusion (33%)which prevents them from drawing life projects to make the transition to adult life.
Another group that accumulates greater vulnerability factors is that of families with children. The exclusion rate among households with children or adolescents is 35% compared to 17% when there are only adults. Therefore, having sons or daughters is penalized and the needs derived from upbringing burden families and their living conditions. It has been a worsening working conditions, leading to more working poor and lower levels of personal and social fulfillment.
During this crisis, precariousness has tripled in the Canary Islands and reaches almost 130,000 households (15%) that depend economically on a person who suffers serious job instability. At the moment, long-term unemployment is a reality that reaches more than 50,000 families and total family unemployment has almost doubled, and today there are more than 120,000 family units in the Canary Islands where all active people are unemployed In addition to employment, housing and health are other major drivers of exclusion in the Islands. More than 180,000 households (21%) have abandoned medical treatment or have stopped buying medicines due to economic problems, a reality that is increasing among households in a situation of exclusion, which affects more than half (56%).
But mental health is one of the great revelations of this crisis because suffering from some mental health disorder or illness, has multiplied by four and now reaches 19% of the Canarian population (more than 400,000 people). In the field of housing, the difficulty in paying is the casuistry that is repeated the most. The combination of high prices and low or unstable incomes make just over 165 thousand families (19%), once the rent or mortgage payment has been made, remain in a situation of severe poverty. There is, therefore, a serious problem of access to human rights such as health or housing. This difficulty appears linked to the limited access to income that ensures them and that depends on a labor market that expels and makes workers more precarious.
Although there is still ample room for improvement in the face of this situation, it is necessary to improve the social protection system in the future with the following basic proposals suggested by Cáritas Regional del Canarian Archipelago:
- Reinvigorate the social public policy model as a whole.The magnitude of severe exclusion in the Canary Islands demands a continuous process of adaptation, transversality and comprehensiveness both in the social work model and in the way public policies are organized.
- Improve access channels and coverage of the Minimum Vital Income, since it represents a notable social advance to correct the imbalance of social protection. Only 15% of people in a situation of severe poverty in the Canary Islands currently receive this aid.
- Implement comprehensive and cross-cutting policies against residential exclusion. 75,000 families suffered delays or did not have enough money to pay some of the expenses related to housing, such as rent or mortgage.
- Have public policies that provide the necessary means so that all people can overcome the digital divide. Without forgetting that it is necessary to keep the non-digital doors open, so that the adaptation process of the people most excluded from digitization does not leave them out.