The IX FOESSA Report on Exclusion and Social Development in the Canary Islands, which has been presented today in La Laguna, is a tool to get closer to reality from the perspective of the most vulnerable people. A necessary effort to talk about employment beyond the unemployment rate, to talk about social exclusion beyond economic poverty,” he explains. Daniel Rodriguez de Blastechnician from the Study Team and the FOESSA Foundation of Cáritas Española, who stresses that the exclusion has widened, implying that 29.1% of the inhabitants of the autonomous community, just over 630,000 people, find themselves in a situation of “significant disadvantage”.
More serious is the increase in the group of the most fragile, which represents 15% of the situations of severe exclusion, reaching more than 300,000 people, that is, people in the most critical situations already represent almost half of the people present in the space of social exclusion.
It is necessary to underline that the levels of monetary poverty and inequality are high and persistent for many Canarian families. However, although the distance with Spain has been reduced in recent years, poverty rates in the Archipelago continue to be higher than those registered in the state as a whole and affect, in its most severe version, nearly 425 thousand Canarians ( 19.6% in the Canary Islands by 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 factor of exclusion: the digital divide, which affects 30% of Canarian households and, to a greater extent, households in severe exclusion , 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 conclude that being a foreigner in the Canary Islands is an enormous 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 as much exclusion as in households headed by someone of Spanish nationality, which draws a new line of exclusion in this “fractured society”.
Being young, an exclusion factor
These are profiles that the FOESSA Foundation has been drawing for some time as disadvantaged groups, but this time we must add a new one: being young, since one in three young people between the ages of 19 and 29 is 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.
There has also been a worsening of working conditions, which generates more poor workers 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 are economically dependent on a person who suffers from serious job instability.
At this time, the fact that the breadwinner is in long-term unemployment is a reality that affects more than 50,000 families and total family unemployment has almost doubled, and today there are more than 120,000 family nuclei in the Canary Islands where all active people are unemployed.
In addition to employment, housing and health are other major drivers of exclusion on the Islands. More than 180,000 households (21%) have abandoned medical treatment or have stopped buying medicines due to economic problems, a reality that skyrockets among households in a situation of exclusion that affects more than half (56%).
Mental health worsens
But mental health is one of the great revelations of this crisis, since suffering from a 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 payment is the case that is most repeated. The combination of high prices and low or unstable income means that more than 165,000 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 an income that ensures them and that depends on a labor market that expels and makes workers precarious.
Although there is still a wide margin 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 the regional Cáritas of the Canary Islands:
1.- Relaunch 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 integrality of both the social work model and the way of organizing public policies.
2.- Improve access channels and coverage of the Minimum Vital Income, since it represents a notable social advance to correct the imbalance in social protection. Only 15% of people in a situation of severe poverty in the Canary Islands currently receive this aid.
3.- Implement comprehensive and transversal policies against residential exclusion. 75,000 families suffered delays or did not have enough money to pay any of the expenses related to housing, such as rent or mortgage.
4.- 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.