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Over Six Thousand Icelanders Live in Severe Poverty

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Over Six Thousand Icelanders Live in Severe Poverty

Houses in Reykjavík

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

Roughly 6,200 people in Iceland currently live in severe poverty, ruv.is reports. The Ministry of Social Affairs’s Welfare Watch has proposed an increase in child benefits of ISK 4 billion (USD 30 million, EUR 26.5 million) per year and define the minimum support limit.

Around 9 percent of the population is defined as low income earners, that is less than ISK 170,000 (USD 1,270, EUR 1,125) per month in disposable income. Nearly half of these people live in rental accommodation. One third are single and 27 percent single parents.

Siv Friðleifsdóttir, head of the Welfare Watch and former minister for the Progressive Party, says it is necessary to pay a base amount in child benefits which is not fixed to income, as is done in the other Nordic countries.

It is also proposed to reduce the price of housing costs of those worst off as well as make medical and other basic services free for children who live in poverty. NGOs should also be given a greater role in assisting the poor.

Siv told ruv.is that a lot of work needs to be done. “We are talking here about a certain change in the system.”

Welfare Watch was established by the government in 2009 to monitor the effects of the economic crisis on households in Iceland. Welfare Watch includes various associations as well as members of the labor market, the ministries, government institutions and municipalities.

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