The most generous increase in children’s allowance in a generation was announced. Scope of IVF will be widened considerably. Parents whose children choose to study beyond school-leaving age will be supported.
The second week of the Malta Flimkien campaign started with Prime Minister Robert Abela presenting the second batch of Labour’s top manifesto proposals.
The first five proposals involved the announcement of €700 million environment-related projects, the lowering of income tax for all, the reduction for the first time of the corporate tax rate, an increase in all pensions and the introduction of a €10,000 grant to first-time buyers.
The second batch of proposals includes:
- Increased access to IVF
- An unprecedented rise in children’s allowance for all
- A guarantee for children
- Support to parents whose children further their education beyond school leaving age.
Increased access to IVF
Having served as a catalyst for the launch of free state-funded IVF in Malta, Labour is now promising to widen its scope greatly. This includes allowing the use of alternative procedures that increase the chance for successful births. It also widens eligibility to ensure that everyone has a chance to become a parent, and if possible, more than once.
Increase in children’s allowance
Labour’s commitment to parents emerges even more strongly when looking at the other three principal manifesto proposals.
Firstly, PM Robert Abela announced the most generous increase in the children’s allowance in a generation. The benefit per child will increase by €90 incrementally each year during the legislature such that all parents will be receiving €450 more per child. For a young single parent on the minimum wage this would be equivalent to three weeks increase in her net wage.
A guarantee for children
To further assist parents, Labour will be introducing a guarantee for children. The birth or adoption child bonus will be increased by €200. All children will have access to free state funded childcare, irrespective of the working status of their parents. Parents on the in-work benefit will see an increase of €200 per child. Children from lower-income families will receive a back-to-school pack with books and funds to pay for a school uniform. Parents of these children will also get a benefit of up to €300 against fees incurred in extra-curricular activities. For all other parents, the existing tax deduction of €100 will be increased to €300. Finally, all children starting secondary school will be getting a free laptop while the one-tablet-per-child policy will be extended. At the same time, all these parents will be refunded the cost of a basic internet service.
For a child from a low-income background, the children’s allowance and the children’s guarantee would result in support that could amount to up to €1,500, excluding the purchase of the laptop. For other children the support will be €610.
Support to parents whose children further their education beyond school leaving age
The final part of this package is that to support parents whose children continue to study beyond school-leaving age, Labour will introduce €500 per year grant for each child. This money is over and above the stipend increases recently announced which go to students directly and not to their parents. This grant will be paid for the first three years beyond school leaving age during which the child attends full-time education, irrespective of the course taken. This could include vocational courses, as long as they are properly accredited. In this way, Government will be supporting those parents who support their children to continue studying. This in order to continue creating the basis for a more equal society that is able to take full advantage of the knowledge based high skills economy of the coming years.
This second batch of proposals has all the hallmarks of a progressive movement that cares deeply for the families of our country. It wants to enable all who want to become parents to be in a position to realise their dream. It is the most generous financial support package for parents ever put forward, amounting to €176 million over five years.
Taken together the new batch of proposals offers over €191 million well targeted support to parents across the country to improve their quality of life.