A crisis to change social trends

The macroeconomic indicators They are showing that the long-awaited recovery of our economy has begun to be activated. Although some risks still persist, Funcas forecasts point to an advance of 6.3% of GDP this year 2021 and 5.8% in 2022. This is a strong growth that will place Spain at the head of the recovery of the European economies. Without a doubt, excellent news for our economy.

However, these good prospects should not hide the social reality facing the country after a very tough year of pandemic. The economic impact of the health crisis is being hugely uneven, particularly affecting the most vulnerable groups, such as the lowest income earners, people with less training or greater job insecurity.

The situation of young people is particularly worrying – 4 out of 10 were unemployed at the end of 2020 – and that of women – with a greater presence in the sectors hardest hit by the crisis -. This has resulted in a significant increase in people living in extreme poverty or at risk of social exclusionl, also producing a change in the configuration of poverty with the incorporation of people with middle and even higher education. This explains, according to preliminary studies, that the volume of social interventions carried out by entities such as the Red Cross or Caritas has increased between 40 and 60%.

Funcas’ forecasts point to an advance of 6.3% of GDP this year 2021 and 5.8% in 2022

This difficult context has shown, more than ever if possible, the importance of the Obra y Acción Social carried out by the foundations adhering to CECA. Throughout 2020, and despite operational and logistical difficulties, These entities have managed to mobilize around 20,000 volunteers and reach almost 25 million beneficiaries. Half of them, more than 12.9 million, are part of the group of specific groups, such as childhood and youth, people at risk of social exclusion, people with special needs and the elderly.

This has been possible thanks to a social investment of 772 million euros, which once again places the Obra y Acción Social as the largest private social investor in our country. The data is especially significant considering that dividend income from CECA foundations has been reduced importantly after the ECB’s decision that limited the distribution of profits by banking entities (significantly owned by banking foundations).

To face the new scenario caused by the pandemic, the foundations have had to make an extraordinary effort by reorienting their programs and reallocating resources to be able to attend to the most urgent needs this year, that is, those of a social and health nature. This explains why 70% of the total investment has been concentrated primarily in the areas of Social Action and Research with an endowment of 327 and 208 million euros respectively.

Among the measures implemented by these areas stands out, for example, the support for soup kitchens and food banks (they cared for more than one and a half million people, of which 360,000 were under the age of 14) or support for 350 research projects against Covid-19. Also the distribution of sanitary material at a time when, let us remember, there was a pressing problem of global shortage of this type of articles.

Foundations have had to reorient their programs and reallocate resources to meet the most urgent needs

As I said at the beginning, the incipient improvement in our economy is hopeful news and, without a doubt, it will help to face the difficult social situation that the pandemic has accentuated. Now, don’t forget that If the most vulnerable groups are the first to feel the impact of a crisis, they are also usually the last to benefit from the effects of the recovery.

In this sense, CECA’s Welfare Projects will continue to be close to those most in need, acting as a backbone to strengthen social cohesion and the welfare state.

But, in addition, given the magnitude of the challenge we face, it is urgent to use the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan to lay the foundations for growth that is truly inclusive, launching ambitious reforms and maximizing the social impact of the aid. European. With 23% of our population living at risk of social exclusion, our country cannot afford to miss out on this unique opportunity. We must take advantage of this crisis to change the trend.

*** Alberto Aza is a CECA spokesperson.

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