"Poverty has the face of a child," said the director of Unicef Spain, Paloma Escudero, at the presentation on Monday of a report entitled The impact of the crisis on children. Some 26 percent of Spaniards under the age of 18 - 2.2 million children - live in homes that fall below the 2010 poverty threshold, according to National Statistics Institute figures compiled for the report.
For the first time, children living in situations of deprivation in Spain outnumber the over-65s, which was the worst-affected demographic until this year at 21.7 percent. Furthermore, the number of children on the poverty line has risen by 10 percent with respect to 2008, which represents families of two adults and two children with income of less than 16,400 euros. Of the 205,000 children in this bracket, 13.7 percent live on a total income of less than 11,000 euros, which is considered extreme poverty. Only Bulgaria and Romania exceed this figure within the European Union.
Unemployment has also taken its toll: 714,000 families in Spain have no working members, a 120-percent increase over 2007, according to Eurostat figures. "The cost of not acting now will not only affect the most vulnerable children and families today but will also jeopardize the growth of society in the medium and long term," said Escudero.
Government spending cuts saw the suppression of the so-called "baby bond" - a 2,500-euro payment for new or adopting parents - in 2010 and the reduction of social security subsidies for families with two children and income of less than 13,000 euros from 500 euros to 291 euros.