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Andalusia to pay utility bills for the poor

Source: El Pais - Thu 14th Nov 2013
Andalusia to pay utility bills for the poor

The Andalusian regional government has pledged to cover basic electricity and water bills for households with low or zero incomes, in addition to other social measures it has already introduced.

The region currently has an unemployment rate of 35.9% of the active population - a total of 1.4 million people. The Socialist-led government has also passed a decree to help those facing eviction, whereby the region takes possession of the property in question, and has introduced a plan under which the poorest students are guaranteed 3 daily meals at school.

The full details of this latest proposal, which was announced on Wednesday by the deputy regional premier, Diego Valderas of the United Left, are expected to be confirmed within 4 months. The region estimates the cost of the measure at 20 Mln, but is yet to explain where these funds will come from. The aim of the plan is to guarantee "the minimum vital supply" of electricity and water for Andalusians who are at risk of social exclusion, and are receiving the so-called "social salary" - monthly benefits that range from 400 to 645.30 per month, depending on the number of family members in the household in question.

The social salary is paid out to the long-term unemployed who are no longer eligible for other kinds of state support, and only lasts 6 months. So far this year, 47,329 people have claimed the payment in Andalusia, but a further 54,181 people have applied for it.