A statement issued by the National Statistics Office confirms that during 2021 Government’s investment in social benefits reached a new record high with outlays of €1,115 million. This marked a rise of nearly 4% over 2020 and 12% over 2019.
The rise in social investment occurred despite the continued decline in overall dependence on social assistance. In fact, only 4,444 persons resorted to this aid in 2021, or 11% less than those who needed this help in 2019, before the outbreak of the pandemic.
Despite the two-year pandemic, there has been a reduction of 543 people on this benefit. This decline contrasts sharply with what happened in the post-2008 economic crisis, when there had been an increase of almost 900 people on social assistance. At that time, Government had not shielded the population from rising prices and falling employment, pushing people on benefits.
Moreover, one must note that in 2013 the number of those depending on this support were twice what they are now.
The dependency on supplementary allowance, another benefit to which only those in most need must resort to, also continued to decrease, with the number of beneficiaries down by 1,305 compared to 2019. It should be noted that despite the decrease in reliance on this benefit, Government’s allocation still increased from €8.7 million in 2019 to €13.5 million in 2021. This because Labour has greatly improved the rates awarded to beneficiaries.
The same happened when in respect of the in-work benefit where there are almost 7,250 employed persons on low income who are benefiting from this support. Compared to before the pandemic, the amount allocated has increased by more than €2.5 million, or by 60%. This followed an improvement in the rates, eligibility, and the introduction of a supplement.
Thanks to consecutive Budgets measures the amount directed to those with disabilities has also increased, with total outlays now almost €30 million, compared with less than €25 million before the pandemic started. The same happened in relation to Children’s Allowance, where the allocation went up by almost €4.5 million, thanks to the introduction of a supplement. It is worth recalling that in the post-2008 economic crisis the Nationalist administration had reduced this assistance to families by more than €2 million.
Older people unlike other times when they were left alone in moments of economic challenge, saw no such disregard this time. In fact, the amount allocated to widows and widowers increased for the first time to more than €153 million. This means an increase of €12 million, or almost 8% compared to before the pandemic. The amount allocated for pensioners also reached a record figure, that of almost €700 million between contributory and old-age pensions. This means growth of €83 million, or almost 15% compared to 2019. Focusing on those on the minimum pensions, one finds that the allocation has increased by €17 million, or by almost 30%.
All this shows how in the middle of an economic crisis, instead of resorting to austerity, Labour has focused aid to those most in need. This progressive politics is the bedrock of the movement’s economic and social success.