Editorial, February 3, 2022
A citizen and political agreement for ten years to reduce inequalities, Barcelona City Council
A week ago the unemployment data for Spain in 2021 were released. They were encouraging data, since 840,700 new jobs had been created and unemployment had fallen to 13.3%, a rate comparable to that prior to the pandemic. It is true that during the same period, in the euro zone, the unemployment rate was around 7%, with Spain being the highest in the EU. But it is also true that during the worst of the economic crisis the rate in Spain had reached a dreadful 26%.
The most recent data could offer us, as we said, elements of hope and optimism. But the report released yesterday by Càritas and the Foessa foundation on exclusion and social development in Catalonia offers more worrying data. According to this report, we are witnessing an unprecedented increase in the levels of social exclusion, due to job instability, poverty, excessive housing costs… The report specifies that this situation has an impact on mental health, adds that the digital divide also hinders integration processes and points out that migrants, young people, women and families with children and adolescents are those who have suffered more intensely and progressively the effects of the successive crises experienced in our country.
The Caritas report warns of an unprecedented rise in the level of social exclusion.
The figures contained in the report are eloquent. Last year in Spain there were 11 million people in a situation of social exclusion. If in Spain as a whole the average excluded population is around 23%, in Catalonia -the community that suffers the most from this phenomenon- the percentage rises to 29%. This means that three out of every ten Catalans (2,258,000 people) suffer from social exclusion, which is multifunctional and is related to a series of causes whose sum can be fatal for the most disadvantaged citizens.
The knowledge that the gap is widening between those with the highest incomes and those with almost no income cannot leave anyone indifferent. For ethical and practical reasons. A society with such serious open fractures must reduce them as soon as possible. The authors of the report point to proposals such as relaunching the welfare state model without leaving anyone behind, avoiding the chronification of the gaps or improving housing policy. But for this to happen, it is necessary to broaden the consensus in this regard, because only in this way will it be possible to attack with sufficient political force a problem, that of exclusion, which can crack social cohesion.