Investment in benefits grows as dependence falls

Over the past four years, one in four who previously depended on social assistance has become self-reliant.

While in the first quarter of 2019 there were 4,547 persons dependent on social assistance, the number decreased by more than a thousand, to 3,527, in the first quarter of this year. This means that one in four who previously depended on this benefit, is today self-reliant.

In contrast, in the two years following the 2009 economic crisis, there was an increase of almost 900 people on social assistance. In fact, in 2013 there was more than double the number of people presently depending on this aid.

The number of single parents on social assistance has also fallen since January 2019, when Robert Abela became Prime Minister. In fact, from 2,477 in 2019, the number has fallen to 2,036 now, which means that one in six single parents who were dependent on social assistance five years ago has since then moved off this benefit.

The same is true of persons on the supplementary allowance. From 23,076 in 2019, dependence on this benefit has fallen by more than 2,700. One in nine who were on this assistance, mostly elderly, are now in a situation that they no longer need it. 

However, while the dependency on social benefits has decreased, investment on social benefits has risen to €398 million in the first three months of this year. In the same months in 2019 social investment was €243 million, which means that, in just five years, investment on social benefits has increased by 64%. Under the pre-2013 government, the funds allocated amounted to just half of the present amount, even though at that time those who relied on social assistance were double the present amount.

Thanks to consecutive Budget measures the amount directed towards carers has increased to almost €4 million. The same happened with regard to the children’s allowance, where the allocation has risen to almost €16 million, or by almost €6 million more than before Robert Abela took office. It is worth recalling that, in the post-2009 economic crisis, the administration led by Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi had reduced this assistance to households by more than €2 million.

The amount allocated to widows rose for the first time to over €43 million. This means an increase of €5.7 million over two years. As regards the amount given to pensioners this also reached a record figure, that of more than €236 million. This means a growth of €100 million compared to five years ago.

In addition to giving the biggest increases in history in benefits such as pensions and children’s allowance, the current Government has introduced new benefits such as the carer’s grant and the additional cost of living mechanism. At the same time, it broadened eligibility for inwork benefit and improved the generosity of the tapering of social benefits.

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