File image. / ñito salas

Spain’s free rail travel for regular users is to be extended throughout 2023 as part of next year's Budget

This was one of the measures announced after the Budget was approved this Tuesday morning, and it also contains the highest sum ever allocated for social spending including an 8.5% increase in pensions

E. MARTÍNEZ / J.M. CAMARERO Madrid

The Spanish government has just approved the State Budget for 2023 this Tuesday morning, and it includes the highest sum ever assigned for social spending. This will go up to 266.7 billion euros (not including EU funds), an increase of 23.6 billion on this year.

The aim is to ensure that pensioners do not lose spending power, to improve conditions for the working class and increase investment in health, education and dependency.

While giving details of the Budget the Minister of Finance, María Jesús Montero, said the current free travel for regular users of local and medium-distance trains, which was meant to apply until December this year, will be extended throughout the whole of 2023. As well as helping users deal with the cost of living crisis, it aims to encourage more people to use public transport.

María Jesús Montero / efe

The other anti-crisis measures currently in force were not included as part of the Budget and the government will decide in November whether to extend them, she said.

More money for several sectors

Pensions are to rise in line with inflation next year, and an increase of 8.5% has been calculated although the yearly inflation rate is not known at present.

Defence spending is to increase by 6.5%, which Montero said would mainly be used to increase military salaries. The sum invested in health care is also to rise by 6.7% with a specific allocation for primary health care and a 500 million-euro plan to improve infrastructure.

As well as extra money for housing (including affordable rentals), dependency, education and R+D+I, record resources have been assigned for the self-employed and for councils.

Other measures included in this Budget are an increase in unemployment payments, which will return to 60% of the base salary from the seventh month. This will average about 100 euros more and will benefit 300,000 people. The Partido Popular had reduced it to 50% when in government.

The child allowance of 100 euros a month which until now has been paid to working mothers is to be extended to all families with children up to three years of age, and single-parent families with two children will now count as a ‘numerous family’.

Like pensions, the minimum living income is also to be increased in line with inflation.

Taxes

The fiscal package for 2023 was announced last Thursday, and included a tax hike on high incomes, a new tax on the very rich, a reduction in corporate allowances and a reduction in personal income tax for those earning less than 21,000 euros a year.

The government also announced on Monday that it has slightly increased its growth forecast for this year to 4.4%, but has lowered the expected growth in 2023 to 2.1 per cent.