Belgians getting poorer and seeking social aid due to energy high prices, study shows

Poverty rates dropped last year in Belgium. However, as a result of the increased cost of living, those living in poverty became poorer and the lower middle class is increasingly relying on social services. 

In 2021, fewer people were living in poverty in Belgium than two years earlier. At the end of the year, a reversal was noted, according to the latest Poverty Barometer in Belgium. The research showed that, since September last year, those who were poor became poorer already as a result of higher energy prices. As consequence, the demand for help from food banks and Belgium's Public Centres for Social Welfare (CPAS) increased ​ as well at this point.

At the end of last month, CPAS informed about the massive spike in the cost of energy, notably gas and electricity prices, was forcing more Belgians to turn to them for support.

For many people with lower incomes in Belgium, the cost of energy bills is also exceeding their monthly wages. The gap between poor people's income and the poverty threshold in Belgium is growing. They are increasingly facing difficult choices about whether to pay their energy bills or spend money on necessary groceries. 

Last year, more than 95.4 million people in the EU, representing one in five people, were at risk of poverty or social exclusion, according to figures published by Eurostat on Thursday 16 September.

Government measures needed

People who were usually more financially resistant are now also worse off, and the Belgian middle class is increasingly turning to CPAS for financial help, repeating the trend from the worst point in the pandemic.

In 2021, more than 177,000 people in Belgium sought help from Food Banks every month, a record. In the first half of this year, the figure rose even further to 204,000. The number of files for debt mediation has also risen, and are now one-fifth higher than before the pandemic.

According to Decennium Doelen, which brings together all Belgian anti-poverty organisations, mutual societies, trade unions and civil society organisations, more support measures from the government are desperately needed, from long-term energy measures to more social housing.




Get updates in your mailbox

By clicking "Subscribe" I confirm I have read and agree to the Privacy Policy.


Belga News Agency delivers dependable, rapid and high-quality information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from Belgium and abroad to all Belgian media. The information covers all sectors, from politics, economics and finance to social affairs, sports and culture, not to mention entertainment and lifestyle.

Every day, our journalists and press photographers produce hundreds of photos and news stories, dozens of online information items, plus audio and video bulletins, all in both national languages. Since the end of March 2022 English has been added as a language.

For public institutions, businesses and various organisations that need reliable information, Belga News Agency also offers a comprehensive range of corporate services to meet all their communication needs.


Arduinkaai 29 1000 Brussels