€28.5m for 25,300 families by the end of 2024

This week signifies a pivotal phase in the rollout of two significant allowances, as outlined in the 2024 Budget.

As a result of the Budget for 2024, after the successful issuance of pension enhancements and the children’s allowance in December, the focus now shifts to the implementation of two more allowances: the in-work benefit and the carer grant payments.

In-Work Benefit

Initially, to receive the in-work benefit, applicants were required to undergo a formal application process. Between 2015 and 2022 the advent of digitalisation, implemented progressively in partnership with the Commissioner of Taxes and MITA, substantially widened the beneficiary pool. The number of qualifying households surged from slightly over 7,000 to surpass 23,000. This remarkable growth in beneficiaries was further improved by an annual increment of €50 for every child under the age of 23, effective throughout 2024. 

The in-work benefit caters for three distinct family setups: dual-income families, where the combined income post-deductions for social security and taxes does not exceed €50,000; single-parent families, where the sole working parent earns up to €35,000 after similar deductions; and households with one working parent and an income cap of €35,000 after deductions, specifically aimed at those with children under the age of 23.

For the payment scheduled this week (specifically on Saturday), more than 23,200 beneficiaries will be covered, with the total expenditure for these three months amounting to three and a half million euros. Of these beneficiaries, almost 1,000 will receive a letter instead of a direct payment, asking them to provide their IBAN number so that future payments can be deposited directly into their bank accounts. Given that these are new beneficiaries identified through the automated system, this measure ensures that payments reach the right beneficiaries without the issues that can arise with cheque payments.

Carer Grant

The carer grant serves parents who provide care for children with severe disabilities, recognising the full-time commitment that often precludes employment. To support these families, the government initiated the carer grant in 2020, starting with an initial annual payment of €300. By 2022, the amount was raised to €500. In a significant update from 2022, the disbursement method was revised to peg the grant at half of the national minimum wage, elevating the grant’s annual value to slightly more than €4,500, with payments made quarterly.

There are 416 families eligible for this vital support. Over the course of this year, the total distribution in carer grants will exceed two million euros, providing substantial assistance to those caring for children with profound disabilities.

Carers’ Allowances

The above cited payments follow those made at the end of last week to 1,646 persons on the Increased carers’ allowance and carers’ allowance, 1,216 of which receive the former and 430 receive the latter benefit.  A total of €4.15m were paid on these benefits in the first 4 payments of 2024.

These benefits are paid to carers who sacrifice their working careers to take full-time care of their older relatives, most commonly parents, with high or medium level of dependency.

Technology and timing

Technological advancements are enabling authorities to efficiently identify eligible beneficiaries in collaboration with entities such as the Commissioner of Taxes. Directly depositing funds into beneficiaries’ bank accounts is eliminating the risks associated with checks and cash, ensuring quick, reliable payments, and reducing the potential for fraud.

In addition, special attention has been paid to the timing of these grants. Thoughtfully, the payments for the children’s allowance and pension increases were made in December, while the in-work benefit and carers’ grant are scheduled for April, covering the period from January to March. This reflects a commitment to efficiency and respecting the financial needs of beneficiaries, ensuring timely support for those in need.

These measures not only highlight the need for a more personalised approach to social assistance but also demonstrate how the system is proactively adapting to societal and economic changes.

The total outlay on the above-mentioned four social benefits is expected to reach €28.5m by the end of 2024, to the benefit of more than 25,300 families.

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