June 23. 2024. 1:03

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Austria’s centre-left wants to tackle child poverty

Measures are needed to tackle Austria’s rampant child poverty problem, where more than 20% of youth are at risk, according to the social democrat SPÖ which has already received backing from the liberal NEOS.

In Austria, some 370,000 children and teens are at risk of poverty or exclusion. As the country continues to experience some of the EU’s highest inflation levels amid the ongoing energy crisis, there are growing fears that the situation will worsen.

“How much longer will you let Austria’s children freeze, Chancellor?” one opposition SPÖ politician, Christian Oxonitsch, said in early April.

To increase the pressure on the government, the party has now presented a set of demands on tackling child poverty. “Health and social disadvantages suffered by children cannot be repaired for a lifetime,” said party chief Pamela Rendi-Wagner.

The SPÖ presented three specific measures: a basic allowance for children, entitlement to schooling at any age and access to one warm and one healthy meal daily. The government has been feuding over funding for a similar scheme in neighbouring Germany for weeks.

Generally speaking, childhood poverty significantly affects lifetime earnings and social standing throughout life.

“It is the responsibility of all of us to ensure that children do not have to start their lives with such handicaps,” the SPÖ chief stressed.

Backing for this push came from the social liberal NEOS, another opposition party. Together, the two could expect 30% of the vote in the autumn 2024 election in Austria – paving the way for a three-way government.

(Nikolaus J. Kurmayer | EURACTIV.de)