One in six Europeans in 'constant struggle' to pay bills -- survey

One in six Europeans in 'constant struggle' to pay bills -- survey

One European in six reports a constant struggle to pay household bills and about 75 per cent believe that poverty has increased in their country over the past year.These are the key results from a new Eurobarometer survey on social impacts of the economic and financial crisis, presented by the EU Commission on June 22 2010.The survey, carried out in May 2010, marks the halfway mark of the 2010 European Year against poverty and comes after EU leaders agreed on June 17 to "lift 20 million Europeans out of poverty and social exclusion over the next decade," a European Commission media statement said.Speaking to the media in Brussels, László Andor, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion said "The survey results confirm that poverty is a major issue in the EU and that the current economic and financial situation is aggravating the situation further. The crisis is taking its toll and a significant proportion of Europeans today are finding it difficult to make ends meet". Andor said that the EU's new strategy for the next decade: Europe 2020 and its target to lift at least 20 million Europeans out of poverty by 2020 "sends a powerful message about all countries' genuine commitment to visible results for a more just and inclusive Europe". Overall, EU citizens believe that poverty has increased in the year prior to the survey, at all levels: six out of 10 believe poverty has increased in their local area, three-quarters feel poverty has increased in their country and 60 per cent think poverty has increased across the EU as a whole.The crisis and calls for austerity measures come through in people's perception of poverty. Eighty-three per cent of the French, 82 per cent of Bulgarians, 77 per cent of Romanians and 75 per cent of Italians also share this view about their own country. While in some countries, people expect further difficulties, like seven out of 10 Romanians expect their household financial situation to deteriorate, perceptions did improve in others.For example, 23 per cent of Latvians expect their households' financial situation to deteriorate (down from 65 per cent in July 2009), 32 per cent of Lithuanians (down from 58 per cent in July 2009) and 20 per cent of Hungarians (down from 48 per cent in July 2009). Now less respondents in Latvia, Poland, the UK, Belgium and Finland expect to remain unemployed if they were to lose their job.A significant share of EU citizens report being in trouble financially.One in six Europeans reported that their household has had no money to pay ordinary bills, buy food or other daily consumer items, on at least one occasion in the past year and 20 per cent had difficulties in keeping up with household bills and credit commitments at the time of the survey's fieldwork (carried out during May 2010).For 15 per cent it is a constant struggle, while three per cent had fallen behind with some bills and credit commitments and two per cent were having real financial problems and had fallen behind with many such payments.About three out of 10 Europeans reported that it had become more difficult to bear the costs of health care, childcare or long-term care for themselves or their relatives in the past six months. Eleven per cent felt it had become "much more difficult" and 18 per cent thought it had become "somewhat more difficult".One European in six is not very or not at all confident of keeping their job.As in March 2010, 18 per cent of respondents in employment are not very or not at all confident that they would be able to keep their current job in the next 12 months and 49 per cent think it would be fairly unlikely or not at all likely that they would be able to find a new position within six months, should they be laid off. Finally, in terms of future income, 73 per cent of EU citizens either explicitly anticipate lower pension benefits or think they will have to postpone their retirement or save more money for old age.Meanwhile, 20 per cent are very worried that their income in old age would be insufficient for them to live a decent life, and 34 per cent are fairly worried by such outlook.In 17 EU member states, a majority of respondents are very or fairly worried that their income in old age will not be adequate to enable them to live in dignity.

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