Vulnerable groups in Cyprus including young unemployed and the elderly are paying for a crisis they did not cause, according to a Caritas Europa report.
It showed that Cyprus is among those countries showing the highest year-on-year increases in youth unemployment in the EU.
The report showed that at 29.3%, Cyprus has the worst rate of poverty amongst older people in the EU.
Caritas Europa’s new report examined the impact of financial crisis revealing disturbing levels of poverty and deprivation in the seven EU countries worst hit by recession; Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Romania and Spain.
The report is the second annual edition in a series of in-depth examination of the human impact that austerity policies are having on people. It also documents the growing number of people struggling with poverty and social exclusion.
Unemployment in Cyprus is one of the highest in the Eurozone - the worst hit are youth aged under 25 which at 40% is the highest percentage in Europe.
The material deprivation rate for older people has fluctuated, showing an improvement to 2010, a deterioration in 2011 and a slight improvement in 2012.
A very significant increase has also taken place in the rate of people who are severely materially deprived. The rate increased to 15% in 2012, an increase of 3.3 percentage points in one year – amongst the most notable increases in the EU. This rate puts Cyprus considerably above the EU28 average rate (of 10.3%).
The number of people who were living below the poverty line and social exclusion in 2012 amounted to 234,000.
Concerning older people, Cyprus in 2013 had the highest poverty levels in Europe, with a percentage of 29.3%, in relation to 14.3% in 2012.
There was also a small increase in 2013 in Cypriots who were at risk of poverty.
Child poverty in Cyprus has been amongst the lowest in the EU, with a rate of 13.9% in 2012 well below the EU28 average of 21.4%. However, the rate increased by one percentage point in one year between 2011 and 2012.
The report argues that austerity is not working for Europe as five years on since the beginning of the crisis growth is still very low if existing at all, unemployment is still rising and the amount of people in poverty is increasing.
“Politicians have choices when deciding which measures must be taken to alleviate the worst effects of the crisis; especially for the most vulnerable members of our societies,” said Jorge Nuño Mayer, Secretary General of Caritas Europa.
The report depicts an unfair Europe, where social risks are increasing, social systems are being downsized and individuals and families are under stress. It shows a Europe where the social cohesion is fading out and where people’s trust in the political institutions is increasingly weakening.
It concluded that an alternative approach should be adopted, such as putting in place benchmarks which assess the social impact of proposed economic measures before implementing them.