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Three out of four Portuguese families struggle to make ends meet

Credit: Bernardo Jardim Ribeiro

The overwhelming majority (75%) of the almost 7,000 respondents who took part in consumer protection association DECO PROteste's annual survey said they struggled to pay their bills. 7% of families are in a critical situation.

The housing crisis was the main cause of the financial squeeze on families in the last year, suppressing any relief provided by falling inflation. According to the consumer protection association, rent was the expense that increased the most in 2023 (+11% compared to 2022), leading 23% of tenants to admit to struggling to meet their payments.

In the context of rising interest rates, almost 28% of households faced difficulties paying off their bank loans. Loans appear as the third largest expense (6% compared to 2022) in 2023, behind catering (7%).

In addition to rents, Deco Proteste's barometer indicates that around a third (31%) of families said they had found it "much more" difficult to pay for essential expenses - such as mobility, health and food - while 4% said it was "mission impossible". Only 6% say they didn't feel any impact from rising inflation.

The barometer also indicates that single-parent and large families, as well as families in which one of the members is unemployed, experienced the most difficulties in 2023. In the case of single-parent families, according to the available data, there are around 75,000 households in Portugal facing extreme poverty.

The Alentejo and the Centre are indicated as the regions where people live with the most difficulty, with Castelo Branco being the district with the most difficulty and Bragança having the most freedom.

As for this year's outlook, those surveyed didn't foresee much improvement, anticipating "an increase in financial difficulties in the current context of inflation and uncertainty about the evolution of mortgage interest rates".

Expenditure on food, household bills and health will replace rents, restaurants and loans, respectively, as the expenses that will see the biggest increases this year.

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