Photo: INÊS LOPES/OPEN MEDIA GROUP

‘Social support costs’ skyrocket in Algarve borough’s most dependent on tourism

Albufeira, Portimão and Loulé – all of them boroughs currently under threat of not moving forwards in the next phase of deconfinement – are also the areas where social support costs have skyrocketed as a result of the pandemic.

Reports suggest this is because they are boroughs ‘most dependent on tourism’.

IEFP, the institute for employment and professional training, confirms that as of February, the three accounted for 52% of the 33,459 people registered as unemployed in the Algarve.

And due to all the measures put in place to support families and people in need, this has seen the budgets of the three council areas “strongly impacted”.

Said Carlos Rolo, mayor of Albufeira, requests for help by citizens for money to pay their rent and/ or medication have “increased exponentially”.

“Adding up everything that hasn’t been received with what has been spent on aid and we find a reduction of €17.18 million in just one year” (of the town’s budget), he explains.

The result is that the municipality that offers the lion’s share of the Algarve’s hotels will have to delay certain projects – principally those relating to roads, which must now “wait for better days”.

Hopes are of course that the summer will see an invasion of national tourists, and holidaymakers from Spain as expectations that foreign visitors will arrive in any meaningful number are now muted.

“We have to try and keep up our hopes”, Mr Rolo has told Lusa – stressing that if the situation doesn’t improve, the municipality will continue supporting those who are in no way to blame for this current status quo.

The council “cannot allow people to go hungry in Albufeira”, he insisted – adding that no one in a situation of need should feel shame.

In Loulé, mayor Vítor Aleixo estimates the council has already spent around €10 million combatting the socio-economic issues caused by the pandemic.

His concerns now, he stressed, are for the “enormous uncertainties” the next few months will bring – principally the end of moratoria on families’ bank credits (as of March 31), and the same for businesses in September. This creates “a lot of insecurity and enormous worry” in that everything that that has been ‘managed’ up till now “could become very complicated”, he said.

The municipality is preparing various programme to ‘reinforce support’ – again, “even if this means delaying municipal investments” in the pipeline.

Portimão is in a similar bind – with almost as many unemployed as a result of the collapse of tourism as are in Loulé.

Mayoress Isilda Gomes replied to questions put in writing by Lusa, saying that up till now the municipality has spent roughly €6 million on social support.

Madalena Feu, in charge of the Algarve’s branch of IEFP said that of the 33,459 people looking for work in the region, 20% are from Albufeira and 16% from Loulé and Portimão. Faro is responsible for 10%, Silves – 8%, Lagos – 7% and Lagoa – 6% – with other boroughs’ impact on unemployment numbers being ‘residual’, she said.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com