‘Vulnerable social groups’ groups of people considered to be
at risk of poverty or social exclusion because of
- physical disabilities,
- age factors,
- ethnic origins,
- lack of housing, or
- substance abuse.
These people, who were already struggling with financial, social and employment difficulties before the 2008 economic crisis, have become further disadvantaged, and the gap between them and the rest of society has grown even wider. Three subgroups stand out as being most affected by the European economic and financial crisis. The number of people experiencing in-work poverty is rising, with economic constraints forcing them to work in increasingly precarious jobs or obliging them to accept self-employed status.
Disabled people, already confronted by barriers hindering their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others, have, as a result of the crisis, lost a great deal of social, economic and mobility support and their chances of re-entering the labour market have diminished. Finally, changes in family structure mean that the number of single parents, especially single mothers, has increased in recent years.
These parents struggle to achieve a work-life balance on account of their multiple obligations, and as a group they are also suffering from the effects of the crisis. The situation of vulnerable groups has been of concern to the European institutions for the last decade, from the point of view of poverty as well as of labour market participation and gender equality.