Madrid | Almost three months after its emergency creation in Spain to cope with the explosion of poverty caused by the pandemic, the minimum living income is at a standstill and the administration overwhelmed by the avalanche of demands.
This aid was a promise from the left-wing government made up of the socialists of Pedro Sanchez and the radical left of Podemos.
But the Covid-19 pandemic, which has severely mourned Spain and devastated its economy, rushed its approval at the end of May, even before the end of deconfinement, to make it a safety net for the most precarious, while the queues lay in front of food banks.
The measure should cost three billion euros per year according to the government.
Officially, of the first 750,000 requests received, 143,000 (19%) have been analyzed and 80,000 approved since June 15, the date on which the filing of files began, according to a press release from the Ministry of Social Security released on August 20.
But the main union of civil servants, the CSIF, reads the situation much more pessimistically: “nearly 99% of requests have not been processed,” its spokesperson José Manuel Molina told AFP.
According to him, Social Security officials have only really managed to analyze 6,000 files, while 74,000 households already receiving family allowances were declared automatically beneficiaries.
These families have already received two payments of aid, capped at a maximum of 1,015 euros per month per household, according to the Ministry of Social Security.
But for hundreds of thousands more, the wait is agonizing.
“We sent the request on June 26, and since then I have had no feedback (…) It’s already been two months of waiting, whereas in theory it was a measure taken so that no one ends up in the street ”, testifies Marta Sanchez, 42 years old.
Mother of two young children, this resident of Seville (south) must for the first time resort to the Red Cross to feed them, after losing her job as a teleoperator during confinement, while her husband, a VTC driver, was also dismissed.
“Thank goodness my mother and sister pay our water and electricity bills,” while their landlord, a family member, turns a blind eye to unpaid rents, says Ms. Sanchez, aware that all families do not don’t have a chance.
“The pace may be a little slower than expected, but we are working to automate a lot of procedures, and processing should be much faster from now on,” said a spokesperson for the Ministry of Social Security.
“The start of a service is always difficult (…) and this situation is not an exception”, she assures.
For Mr. Molina, the representative of civil servants, it is on the contrary a “new” phenomenon, aggravated by years of budget cuts in the administration, which has lost 25% of its workforce in ten years according to him.
“The problem is that they rushed everything, practically without training and with an enormous lack of staff”, while the branch of Social Security in charge of the minimum living income has only 1,500 civil servants, who also deal with retirements, explains the trade unionist.
These officials are faced with an “avalanche of requests”, the volume of which already corresponds to “all of the retirement files received during an entire year,” he assures us.
About 500 temporary workers were recruited as reinforcements via the semi-public company Tragsatec, but their help is limited because not having civil servant status, they cannot officially validate the files, regrets Mr. Molina.
And the number of requests should increase further, because the government estimates at 850,000 the number of households eligible for this new service, or 2.3 million people of which 30% are minors.
Presented by the government as very simple to complete via an internet application, the file actually poses a problem for many applicants without resources affected by the “digital divide”, while the deadline for obtaining a physical appointment is around two months. , also denounces the CSIF.