Spain launches minimum income scheme for its most vulnerable families
Some of Spain's most vulnerable families have begun to receive a minimum monthly payment of up to €700.
From Friday, some 255,000 people will benefit from the Minimum Living Income scheme that was announced by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's ruling Socialist Party last month.
Half of this first tranche of beneficiaries will be children, the government says.
The monthly benefit is a lifeline for Monica Yandun, who cannot work because her daughter is partially disabled.
Until now she received only €1,000 a year in child support allowance — but with a monthly rent of €600, she said it was difficult to put food on the table.
"I have to go to the doctor all the time, I have to pay additional expenses," she told Dailyrater. "So more income is necessary because I can't afford it."
Once fully rolled out, the measures will benefit up to 850,000 households and 2.3 million people.
It is the result of the prime minister's coalition deal with Pablo Iglesias, who leads the left-wing Podemos party and has long argued a minimum income should be implemented across the European Union.
The Spanish scheme will cost €3 billion annually and Sanchez plans to fund it partly through a proposed tax on digital companies and stock market transactions.
Many vulnerable residents shop at food banks like the Catholic Church's charity Cáritas, where volunteers say there has been a flood of requests about the new living income scheme.
"People who come to ask about it may not have worked for years," said Rocío Jiménez Daza, a Cáritas volunteer in Madrid, who said those visiting her were "people who don't have an email, who don't have a computer at home, or who don't have data."
"In fact, we often do that for them here," she added.
Claudia and Santos have exhausted the savings they built up since coming back from Venezuela.
They have since been living in the house of a relative, but their age has become an obstacle to finding work.
Being two adults and a young daughter, they could receive a minimum living income of about €700 per month.
Santos is Spanish, Claudia will soon have been a legal resident for a year and the couple have a young daughter, meaning they will be eligible to receive the €700 monthly payment.
"Those €700 would be for food," Claudia said.
"With the change of seasons here, we would have to buy clothes suitable for that and supplies for the new school year of our daughter."