Demand for Aid Brazil explodes and queue already has 2.78 million families
Municipalities across the country account for a repressed demand of 2.78 million families to have access to Auxílio Brasil, a social program of the Jair Bolsonaro government. There are 5.3 million people who have the profile to receive the benefit and were in line in April, according to the most recent mapping by the National Confederation of Municipalities (CNM).
The speed of growth of repressed demand has been surprising and worrying the mayors, who at the end feel the demands of the population in the wake of the increase in poverty in their localities. It is in the municipalities that families register for the program at the Social Assistance Reference Center (Cras) to gain access to the country’s social protection network.
The mapping of the CNM, in advance of the Estadãois being released 10 days after the publication of the results of the 2nd National Survey on Food Insecurity in the Context of the Covid-19 Pandemic, which showed that hunger in Brazil has returned to levels last recorded in the 1990s.
Currently, 33.1 million people do not have enough to eat in the country, 14 million more than last year.
While city halls warn of the need to reinforce the program, experts defend a great mobilization to face the increase in hunger. They point out flaws in the design of Auxílio Brasil benefits and call attention to the need to direct resources to Alimenta Brasil, a program for purchasing food from family farmers and donating to families in situations of food insecurity.
With the lack of data exposure by the Ministry of Citizenship, responsible for the management of Auxílio Brasil, the CNM decided to proceed with its own monitoring of the situation in the 5,570 municipalities.
The report of Estadão contacted the ministry to obtain official figures and comment on how the various benefits provided for in the program are being distributed, including the Rural Productive Inclusion, paid in monthly installments of R$ 200 to families that have family farmers in their composition. And once again got no response. In other published reports, the procedure was the same.
The atmosphere among the experienced technicians at Pasta is one of indignation with the lack of transparency of information, which should be public, according to the Estadão. With four months to go before the elections, the detailed data of Auxílio, which guarantees a minimum benefit of R$ 400, are treated as sensitive behind the scenes of the government due to their electoral potential.
The president of the CNM, Paulo Ziulkoski, attributes the lack of ample data to the electoral situation. “As much as possible, they (the government) hide it, but we at the end can stand up and show it”, he says. “And it will get worse until the election”, he predicts.
According to him, the picture is worrying because the queue, which had decreased at the beginning of the year, has already returned to the previous level. The problem erupts in city halls, complains the president of the entity, which brings together city halls from all over the country. According to Ziulkoski, municipal schools end up becoming a refuge for children who arrive hungry and need food reinforcement before classes.
According to CNM data, between March and April, pent-up demand rose at a speed that is close to the data obtained before the migration of the Bolsa Família program, which ended last year, to Auxílio Brasil, which was for 3.1 million families. From one month to the next, there was a real increase of more than 1.480 million families waiting for the benefit.
That is, the queue more than doubles in just one month, a growth of 116%. It jumps from 1.307 million families (2.1 million people) to 2.788 million families (5.3 million people), with just over 401 thousand families missing to reach the level prior to the transition of the programs.
“Incentive” to distortions
Changes in the program’s design have contributed to accentuating the problems. Among them, the decision to guarantee a minimum benefit of R$ 400 per month for each family. This rule has meant that a beneficiary who lives alone ends up receiving the same amount as a mother with two small children. The model works, in practice, as an incentive for people who live together to register as if they lived separately, receiving R$ 800. This situation can end up leaving families who need it most out of the program.
“In addition to the inequitable design, the R$400 floor generates incentives for people who live together to register separately. It is a kind of dismemberment of families, which enormously impairs the quality of the Cadastro Único data and, with it, its ability to direct public policies to the most vulnerable population”, says Leticia Bartholo, sociologist and specialist in public policies and government management. She is a former Deputy National Secretary for Citizenship Income.
The mayor of Picuí, a city in Paraíba located in the Sertão do Seridó, Olivânio Dantas Remígio, believes that with the creation of Auxílio Brasil what he calls the “principle of territoriality” is lost. “We had a mapping of poverty in the municipality. We knew exactly where the families with the highest degree of social vulnerability were,” he says. “It was difficult for the municipality to have a follow-up framework without having concrete information.”
The mayor of Paraíba cites another collateral problem: the increase in demand for occasional aid, such as basic food baskets, social rent and energy assistance. Remígio says that registration is still being carried out by Cras, however, the conditions for monitoring families are no longer charged, such as, for example, vaccination of children, weight and assessment of whether they are eating well. “This network of health, social assistance and education is broken”, he warns.
The study points out that the budget forecast for this year’s Auxílio Brasil is no longer enough to finish the queue. The estimated budget is R$ 89 billion.
In 2021, data obtained via public consultation and collected by the CNM showed more than 25 million families registered in the Cadastro Único, corresponding to about 75 million people. In 2022, the number grows and exceeds 33 million families or 83 million people. A little more than 38% of the population (215 million inhabitants in 2021) are using official social assistance programs.
The information is from the newspaper. The State of São Paulo.