“At the same time that confinement measures were preventing contagion by covid-19, many Portuguese families were in financial crisis. Since the beginning of the pandemic in our country, last March, until mid-May, the loss of income was widespread in 70 percent of households”, said in a statement, the Deco - Portuguese Association for Consumer Protection.
According to data provided by the association, considering the universe of Portuguese families, each has already lost, on average, 944 Euros, a value that multiplied by the number of households (close to 4.2 million) translates to a loss of 3.9 billion Euros, almost three times that recorded in mid-March (1.4 billion Euros).
At the centre of the financial cut is the loss or reduction of professional income, which, between mid-March and May, went from 581 to 1,126 Euros.
On the other hand, the financial damages recorded, during the period in question, are also justified with the cancellation of trips, cultural and sporting events, losses in real estate rents and in investments in financial products.
Of the total respondents, 9 percent found it difficult to pay the home loan, in May, 12 percent rent, 13 percent telecommunications, 12 percent gas, electricity and water and 11 percent food.
“Savings, as a consequence, are being greatly affected. In one third of the cases, savings have already been used to meet daily expenses and another third of families anticipate the need to do so. Given the adverse circumstances, one in four families was forced to ask for financial assistance”, reads the document.
As Deco indicated, since the beginning of the crisis, 65 percent of the Portuguese have remained professionally active and 42 percent of these continue to receive the same salary, while 23 percent have seen their income cut.
Already 22 percent of families face “blacker horizons” with some element that was temporarily out of work, for example, due to the 'lay-off' regime (reduction of working hours or suspension of contracts) or unemployment, which reached 13 percent of respondents.
The self-employed were the most affected, with the majority continuing to work, but with lost income.
Over the next 12 months, 26 percent of respondents expect job loss to be “probable” and 30 percent to cut wages without a reduction in working hours, while 23 percent say an increase in workload with the same remuneration is also “likely”.
In addition, 31 percent of respondents considered the loss or reduction of employment benefits as "probable", such as meal subsidies or bonuses and 22 percent "very likely or certain".
To conduct this study, Deco sent, between 14 and 15 May, an online questionnaire to “a representative sample of the Portuguese population”, aged between 18 and 74 years old.
In total, 1,002 responses were obtained.