Despite low unemployment, poverty is on the rise in Slovenia

Slovenia is one of the new EU member states where unemployment is low and few people are moving abroad. Nevertheless poverty among young people has become an issue and the number of people claiming social benefits is on the rise. In fact, since Slovenia's independence in 1991 the number of adults receiving social assistance has increased four times over. Ksenija Samaradzija Matul from Radio Slovenia International has more.

Photo: archive of Radio Prague
The transitional period proved to be especially difficult for unskilled workers; many lost their jobs and were unable to find a new one. The result was a growing number of people at the bottom of society. Used to living in former Yugoslavia, many of the workers who lost their jobs after 1991 were not able to adjust to the new situation, and were unable or did not try hard enough to be financially independent.

In many cases this new experience led to apathy, which also affected the children. Kids from families with financial problems are in some respects deprived of a social life, as it usually requires money that they don't have. Special cases are single parent families. Since January 2004 children of single parent families are entitled to higher financial support - in numbers their support will increase 10 %. Alenka Kovsca State Secretary at the Ministry of Labour:

"Single parent families with only one income are certainly entitled to receive additional child assistance, because the income per member of the family is probably lower. Our analyses and research show that theses family are more threatened by the risk of poverty."

Many children from poorer families are reserved and some of them lack self-confidence. But there are also poor children, who try hard to achieve a good education and to get a good job, in order to escape poverty and social welfare services. But those who need help, get it. Apart from financial support, Slovenia's welfare system offers free holidays for children, and there are workshops and other programmes for those who have to stay at home, because their parents cannot afford to take them on a holiday.

Photo: European Commission
Schoolchildren and students from poor families receive scholarships. Those parents, who are not a role model for their children are the main problem. Motivating adults to find a job and to support their families without the help of the welfare system is a key issue. In general social workers in Slovenia are optimistic for the future; they believe that the next generations will perfectly adjust to the situation and the number of children who need the help of the Slovenian welfare system will decrease further.