FACUA welcomes the package of measures agreed by PM Sánchez and Unidos Podemos leader Iglesias

The measures could contribute to a social shift which would reinstate and improve the rights of citizens, although everything will depend on the way in which they are formalised and put into practice.

FACUA welcomes the package of measures agreed by PM Sánchez and Unidos Podemos leader Iglesias

FACUA-Consumers in Action welcomes the package of measures agreed between the President of the Government (PM), Pedro Sánchez, and the leader of Unidos Podemos, Pablo Iglesias. The association believes that there needs to be a social shift in Government policies that would bring benefits to millions of families, reinstating and improving their rights in areas such as public health, addiction, education, access to housing and the supply of basic services. These agreed measures could contribute to such a change, although all depends on the way in which they are formalised and put into practice.

Rents

The Government's commitment to giving councils the capacity to put limits on price increases for rented accommodation is an interesting step. However, according to FACUA this policy should go further and grant councils the legal capacity to establish caps on these prices. The effectiveness of the measures, in any case, will depend on the political will of each municipal council.

FACUA also welcomes the reinstatement of the minimum period of 5 years on contracts for private rented properties. This minimum period was established by the Law on Urban Lettings of 1994 but was reduced to 3 years by the government of Mariano Rajoy, contributing to the increase in prices. In the case of renting properties which belong to legal entities, the period will be increased to seven years.

In relation to the six month notice which will have to be given in order to extend rent contracts, FACUA demands that this should be the responsibility of the landlords. In this way, FACUA hopes that a reduced period is established for the tenants, given that it is impossible for many families to know half a year in advance if their economic situation will allow them to continue to pay the rent.

Mortgages

The agreement also establishes a commitment to push for parliamentary approval of a regulation that strengthens the protection of people with mortgages. FACUA is demanding legal changes in this respect and hopes for political awareness from the two parties to curb certain banking practices. However, it is considered key that this government, alongside the autonomous communities, begin to apply the legislation that has already been in force for decades and apply meaningful sanctions against the banks that commit mortgage fraud.

Electricity

The combination of measures related to energy convey real political will to reduce prices and to make the supply of electricity affordable for families. However, the lack of precision makes it impossible for FACUA to arrive at a positive assessment of the agreement in this respect.

FACUA laments that the agreement between the PSOE government and the group Unidos Podemos does not include a commitment to reducing the VAT on electricity. The association is demanding that it be reduced from 21% to the superreduced level of 4%, which would reduce the average user's annual bill by 128 euros (with reference to the PVPC tariffs of September 2017 to August 2018).

In addition, the association demands the participation of organisations that are more representative of civil society in the working group which will be set up, with representatives of Government and the parliamentary group Unidos Podemos, to agree a Climate Change and Energy Transition Bill and an National Integrated Plan on Energy and Climate.

Public Health

The elimination of the pharmaceutical and health copayment systems set up by the PP Government is a measure which FACUA largely supports, although it would have preferred that they be ended with completely with immediate effect rather than in different phases.

Pharmaceutical copayment will come to an end gradually, beginning in 2019 with users with low income levels: pensioners with contributary rents who have a dependent spouse or a survivor’s pension (800 euros a month in 14 payments) and members of families with an annual income of less than 9,000 euros and one or more dependent children. Copayments will also end for non-urgent medical transport, orthoprosthetic and dietary products.

The agreement between Unidos Podemos and the PSOE Government also takes into account the political objective of safeguarding against privatising trends and guaranteeing the universal, free and public character of healthcare.

Gambling

For the agreement to be effective, gambling and betting advertising would need to be banned in Spain, given that the commitment is to regulate it in a way "similar to that for tobacco products". Although FACUA doubts that gambling advertising will end up being banned, it hopes that this does amount to a total ban on adverts for betting shops. Convincing measures must be developed which reduce tragic scenarios like gambling addiction, the brutal debt faced by families that return compulsively to gambling, and end the participation of teenagers in online betting - a phenomenon that is growing as the consequence of its use of video games and its advertising featuring well-known sports stars, actors and journalists.

FACUA also demands limits on the opening hours of these establishments dedicated to betting and gambling, which are proliferating at an alarming rate, especially in working class areas.