By Jim Hayes
Spain’s government has just decided to implement a national minimum income. It means that every one has the right to live above the poverty threshold. The longer-term of the government’s policy aim is to raise this to 60 percent of average wages.
A second policy of the Socialist Party – Unidas Podemos coalition, is the introduction of a jobs guarantee, to counter the shortage of full time jobs and rise of casualisation of labour. Movement on this is likely to come soon, although details have not be released at this time.
The starting point is that 2.3 million single Spaniards will get a minimum of 462 Euros a month and this will rise up to 1,105 Euros, for those with dependents. T
Tackling poverty and unemployment is a big challenge for a country that already had 20.8 percent out of work before the pandemic and has experienced the section highest number of infections and deaths in Europe. at least another million has been added to those without jobs. Covid-19 has accelerated the the introduction of this policy.
The new payment tops up other sources if income, if there are any, and those in casualised work are entitled to it. All who qualify, only have to register online to get it. There is no ongoing reporting at an office. Although processing for new applicants is expected to take up to a few months, all cases will be backdated to 1 June.
People between 23 and 65 with assets of less than 16,614 Euros not including house and discounted loans, can receive the payment.
Other benefits are included in the plan.
A payment is to be made for all children, to ensure that they receive a minimum regarded as being necessary to avoid poverty related issues.
Rents have been set at a maximum, to guarantee housing affordability.
Income tax has been reduced for those on lower incomes, and company tax will be increased and tax avoidance loopholes closed off to provide the government with increased revenue for its social programs.
The principles is that by helping each other we can all be lifted to a better standard of living
The implementation of theguaranteed minimum income was announced by Deputy Prime Minister and Unidas Podemos leader Pablo Eglesias. He told Spain’s national newspaper El Pais:
“Today this government is showing that its political choice is social justice…”
The rationale behind the guaranteed minimum income is that it is not only about social justice, as important as this is. The Spanish government argues that it will act as a key economic stimulator, by increasing the amount of money Spaniards have to spend. This will create demand and grow the market and therefore help to boost the economy and create jobs.
Although most governments, traditional political parties and employer organisations, are against the idea of a guaranteed minimum income, it has been gaining traction in many countries over recent years.
Australia is no exception. As the nation begins its emergence from its own current pandemic crisis, assuming there is no second wave, the reality of only a few months ago is not going to return to that point.
There is a debate about which way to go. The choice is whether to continue on the road of an increasing gap between the few and the many, or to take on a new direction, one like the current Spanish government is taking its first steps on.