Extra aid for the people from Ghent during corona crisis

With a series of concrete measures the city of Ghent is ready to assist Ghentians who are struggling financially during the corona crisis.

The City of Ghent has prepared a series of concrete measures to assist Ghentians who are struggling financially due to the corona crisis. For example, from 1 May, the Public Centre for Social Welfare (PCSW) will be able to offer additional financial aid to any person in Ghent who has an income below the poverty threshold and whose income lies critically below the national minimum wage. The City also provides 100,000 euros in material aid and financial crisis support for about 1,000 families on social welfare benefits (the Belgian ‘living wage’).

Due to the major impact of the corona crisis, the number of residents of Ghent who are unable to make ends meet is increasing. With 2,330 informative queries, March was the busiest month in 5 years for the social welfare agencies. The trend continued in the first weeks of April, when the number of questions was 40% higher than in other years.

We mainly receive questions about financial aid, applying for a living wage and advances on unemployment benefits. In most cases, these are people who have never before been entitled to social benefits, whose benefits have become inefficient, and people who are faced with a delay in the payment of temporary unemployment.

The Taskforce Relance launched a series of measures on April 3, 2020 to assist Ghentians who are in financial difficulties. These social measures have now been made more concrete.

Crisis support for families with a living wage

On Friday 17 April, about 1,000 families received 60 euros in crisis support. It concerns families with only minor children who receive a living wage. The extra budget is meant to help carry additional costs, caused by the fact that children are constantly at home.

Additional financial aid

From 1 May, the PCSW will be able to pay additional financial aid to any person in Ghent who experiences financial difficulties, has an income below the poverty threshold and whose income lies critically below the national minimum wage. Until now, this was only possible for people with a living wage, retirement benefits or disability benefits. The additional financial aid is granted after a social and financial investigation. The first payments are expected at the end of June (with retroactive effect).

Mediation for people with rent debts

The PCSW has received an additional budget of 60.000 euros to strengthen the services that help those people who have rent debts due to the crisis. This is in addition to the initiatives taken by the Flemish government.

100,000 euros for material aid

The City of Ghent provides has set aside 45,000 euros for a group purchase of hygienic products (such as soap, diapers, sanitary towels, etc.). The material will be distributed through initiatives that provide food and material assistance. After consultation with these aid organizations, the City of Ghent also provides 27,000 euros for Kras vzw and 27,000 euros for the organizations associated with Samen Solidair Gent. The financial support will be used for food and material aid, and will be additional to other emergency measures such as deploying city employees, training extra volunteers, supplying food surpluses via Foodsavers and distributing protective equipment.

Info: Thomas.Maeseele@ocmw.gent