Madrid, May 29 (efe-epa).- The Spanish government on Friday approved a guaranteed minimum income program to help some 850,000 disadvantaged households.
Around 2.3 million Spaniards at risk of poverty could benefit from the scheme, roughly half of them children.
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said in a tweet: “A country doesn’t prosper if a section of society is left behind. Today, the cabinet has approved the guaranteed minimum income, a historic measure in our democracy, a new pillar of the welfare state that will make Spain a more equal country.”
The payments will vary between 461 to 1,100 euros ($500-1,200) and will be tailored to a family’s situation depending on income assessment, marital status and whether or not the household includes children.
It is set to cost the state 3 billion euros, should it pass the scrutiny of lawmakers in Parliament.
Sánchez, leader of the Socialist Party (PSOE), the senior coalition partner in government, said similar programs had already been unveiled in European nations.
He said it would benefit four of every five families living in extreme poverty.
The coalition government, composed of the PSOE and left-wing party Unidas Podemos, had studied the guaranteed minimum income scheme for months but its approval by the cabinet was expedited by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
The deadly outbreak, which has killed more than 27,000 people in Spain, and the ensuing lockdown to contain it sparked a sharp increase in unemployment and poverty.
According to the Bank of Spain, some 12 million people, around a quarter of the Spanish population, were at risk of poverty before the pandemic.