The number of Spaniards living in severe poverty has doubled to around 3 million since the economic crisis erupted in 2008, a report shows.
The Caritas charity published the report on Thursday and the figure was based on those who live on less than 307 euros (USD 414) a month.
The organization also said that poverty becomes chronic, as one third of the 1.3 million people it helped in 2012 had been relying on charity handouts for more than three years.
When looking at the overall number of poor people in Spain, the figure is even higher. The National Institute of Statistics (INE) has reported earlier that nearly 13 percent of Spanish households last year had great difficulties to make ends meet every month.
The report blamed the poverty problem mainly on the high unemployment rate of 26 percent as well as on social benefit cuts imposed by the government.
In addition, the Caritas charity said that not only is poverty increasing in the country, but the gap between classes are widening on a permanent basis as well.
The report showed the richest 20 percent in Spain controlled 7.5 times more wealth than the poorest 20 percent, describing the wealth gap as the widest in Europe.
The report came just one day after Europe’s main human rights watchdog warned that Spain’s austerity program could have a devastating impact on children, as cuts have increased child poverty, malnutrition, and inadequate housing.
Nils Muiznieks, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner, said on October 9 that child poverty in Spain rose to 30 percent in 2011 and that cuts by the Spanish government in the sectors of welfare, health, and education have left some children homeless and malnourished.
Battered by the global financial downturn, the Spanish economy collapsed into recession in the second half of 2008, leaving over 26 percent of the nation out of work.
The younger generation is among the hardest hit, with almost half of all youth going without jobs.