The Social Safety Net Reform Is Not Working

The Social Safety Net Reform Is Not Working

Bolsonaro speeds up payments to the poor as election looms

The government’s proposal to make Brazil’s social safety net more flexible and give families more access to food and water is being hailed as a way of giving the country a much-needed injection of cash.

The presidential candidate’s proposal to overhaul Brazil’s social safety net has been widely welcomed, not least because it would benefit a large number of people the country can ill-afford to help.

The centrepiece of the plan would be a reform of the government’s universal credit scheme which, in theory, would make low-income Brazilians’ monthly payments up to the poverty line. Instead of making monthly payments to families on a regular basis, it would make the payments dependent on their income. By adjusting the amount of money they receive, recipients would be able to make the money stretch further and stretch further. This would be good news for families who currently struggle to pay for essentials.

However, the proposed change is being met with a lot of resistance and concern because the government does not know how the change will work or, even more worrying, that it will actually work. Brazil’s politicians are still debating the question of whether the change will work. So far no one has come up with a plan and no one really knows what the consequences will be if the change does go ahead.

President Jair Bolsonaro plans to push for the change soon. This weekend he will speak to the nation and will announce the plan in a speech in which he will highlight the importance of the poor, saying that they have the right to get help and should not have to beg from the government.

The centrepiece of the plan is based on a set of assumptions. These are that the government will assume that everyone earning less than the poverty line will be entitled to some amount of support. In reality, however, it is not clear how many families that will be. There is a chance that it will be much higher than the official figure of around 50,000 who are in families who need support.

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