Progressive policies pay off

Despite a rise in the euro area, Malta managed to reduce its population at risk of poverty and social exclusion following the pandemic.

Eurostat data show that the rate of Maltese at risk of poverty or social exclusion fell to 19.8% in 2023, from 20.1% a year earlier. This reflects a decrease in the percentage of those at risk of material or social deprivation as well as in the rate of those earning an income below 60% of the national average.

Across the euro area the rate of those at risk of poverty or social exclusion was 21.6%. Apart from this being a higher rate than Malta’s, this rate is higher than before the pandemic, 20.7%. In contrast, since 2019 the rate of those at risk of poverty or social exclusion in Malta has decreased from 20.7% to 19.8%.

This differing trend is mainly due to the progressive policies embraced by the Maltese government, especially when it comes to stability in the price of energy as well as the strong increases in social benefits in this period.

In 2013 the rate of those at risk of poverty or social exclusion was 24.6%, which means that in a decade the rate has been lowered by a fifth. In contrast in the years prior to 2013 there had been an increase from 19.5% to 24.6%.

Disposable household income rose from €34,814 in 2022 to €37,275 in 2023, or by 7%. This was the largest increase ever observed since this survey began. It should be noted that those earning less than €600 per month, the poverty measure in 2013, decreased to around 31,000. In 2013 they were almost 65,000.

Had the Government not supported families through social benefits during 2023, the number of people at risk of poverty would have been more than double what it was. More than 90,000 people have been lifted out of poverty thanks to government assistance.

The rate of those at risk of poverty was the lowest observed since 2018. At the same time the rate of those in a situation of material and social deprivation decreased to 9.2% and severe deprivation to 4.1%. The decline in these rates reflected a decrease in the proportion of those who feel they cannot afford to participate in a recreation activity regularly, those who find it difficult to change furniture in their homes or keep their home warm in winter, as well as those with arrears in their bills, rents or debt repayments.

Photo: Adobestock

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