The Ombudsman of Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa, Edmundo Martinho, and six other individuals, including Carlos Farinha Rodrigues, specialist in poverty and inequality, are part of the newly created commission that will prepare the National Strategy to Combat Poverty to be presented by the Government until December 15. The composition of the new commission was published in Diário da República, this Monday, October 26, and includes figures with recognized work in this area. Besides Edmundo Martinho, who will be the coordinator, there are also Amélia Bastos, Carlos Farinha Rodrigues, Fernanda Rodrigues, Rui Marques, Rute Guerra and Ana Rita Gonçalves.
According to the diploma, for the accomplishment of its mission, the hearing of important entities such as the European Anti-Poverty Network, Cáritas Portuguesa, the Confederation of Social Institutions, the União das Misericórdias Portuguesa, the União das Mutualidades Portuguesa, the Cooperative António Sérgio, the Confederação Cooperativa Portuguesa and Animar - Portuguese Association for Local Development.
“The moment we are experiencing as a result of the pandemic caused by the Covid-19 disease has accelerated the urgency for the construction of the National Strategy to Combat Poverty, already foreseen in the Program of the XXII Constitutional Government”, reads in the order signed by the ministers of State and of the Presidency, Mariana Vieira da Silva, and of Labor, Solidarity and Social Security, Ana Mendes Godinho. The diploma stresses that “after a general improvement in the income of Portuguese families has been possible over the last few years, contributing to significantly reduce the number of people in situations of poverty or social exclusion and to mitigate inequalities, the pandemic has come to degrade unemployment indicators and to worsen the material conditions of many Portuguese, imposing, in addition to the emergency response that has been developed, a systemic and structural action to combat poverty ”.
The Government announced on October 17, On the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, the creation of a coordination commission to elaborate a National Strategy to Combat Poverty, with the objective of "mitigating inequalities and guaranteeing decent living conditions". The National Strategy to Combat Poverty will be presented by the Government until December 15th and will take into account the “degradation” of the material conditions of many Portuguese due to the pandemic.
According to the Government, the National Strategy to Combat Poverty “will be based on an integrated approach of medium and long term, which is all the more necessary in view of the uncertainty in health evolution, and consequently in economic evolution, which suggests a comprehensive and flexible response” .
The order now published reveals that the elaboration of the National Strategy to Combat Poverty must meet a set of principles that include, in particular, the transversal integration of all audiences, from childhood to old age, including the most vulnerable groups and audiences, with particular attention people with disabilities. Other principles are highlighted, such as ensuring the replacement of the reference value of the Solidarity Supplement for the Elderly above the poverty threshold, in order to reinforce the guarantee of the effectiveness of this measure in combating poverty among the elderly. And also the need to rethink the system of social minimums, reinforcing state support for the most disadvantaged groups, guaranteeing the universality of its coverage and giving a new impetus to the social economy, in the name of equal opportunities.
The list of listed principles includes the renewal of integrated territorial instruments to combat poverty, better articulating social responses with housing, health, training and employment policies and other relevant areas, with a particular focus on poverty pockets in metropolitan areas. And still others, such as combating energy poverty, combating wage inequality and excessive wage ranges, prioritizing interventions and instruments that break cycles of poverty; as well as ensuring, within the scope of the decentralization of competences to the municipalities in the area of social action, the existence of networked instruments that guarantee a standard of social responses that ensures the equality of citizens in access to these public services throughout the national territory.
Among the measures that the Government considers fundamental to fight poverty and social exclusion is the “continuity of the bet on the recovery of employment” and “in the promotion of decent working conditions”. At the same time, he considers it essential that there is a reinforcement of State support to the most disadvantaged groups, guaranteeing “the universality of its coverage and giving a new impetus to the social economy”.