Spanish Government accused of doing “too little too late”

Food is still being distributed through Spanish food banks Credit: FESBAL Twitter

SPANISH Government accused of doing “too little too late” in a critical report published by Human Rights Watch on July 13 with its response to the financial effect of the pandemic.

It concedes that at the start of the pandemic, the Spanish government expanded existing unemployment support programs and introduced a new flagship social assistance program.

Then says however, despite the government’s stated good intentions, existing weaknesses and flaws in the social security system, as well as problems in the design of new forms of assistance, meant that support fell short of what was needed.

Most damningly the report claims that as a result, “Spain’s government is failing its obligations to protect and fulfil people’s rights to food and an adequate standard of living.”

“The economic storm that came with the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the lives of people on low incomes in Spain, leaving households unable to afford food, even before the current cost-of-living crisis,” said Kartik Raj, Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“Government efforts to supplement an inadequate social safety net have offered too little, too late, and to too few, meaning thousands of people still rely on emergency food aid and parents are skipping meals so their kids can eat” he added.

People’s earnings dried up and they were left unable to afford food and other basic supplies. Many faced delays receiving pandemic-linked furlough payments and responses to their social security support applications.

In an even worse situation were those earning a living in the informal economy as they were hit doubly hard after being excluded from Spain’s contribution-based social security programs or furloughs.

There are currently 54 food banks throughout Spain coordinated by the Federación Española de Bancos de Alimentos (FESBAL).

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