Effective increase of €41 million on expenditure on social benefits in the first half of the year
The expenditure on contributary and non-contributary social benefits has continued its growth between January and June of this year and has now reached the global sum of €583 million. When compared to last year’s expenditure for the same period, there is an increase of 5%, or around €28 million.
In parallel, during the first six months of this year there are 550 less persons receiving social assistance when compared to the same period in 2019, before the pandemic.
It is of note that if one were to omit the COVID temporary benefits paid, the effective increase on the global social benefits expenditure reached approximately €41 million. This expenditure on COVID benefits during this same timeframe in 2020 was of €13.6 million.
During the first six months of the year, the largest increase was that of approximately €22 million on contributary benefits which totalled around €479 million. When considering the extraordinary expenditure of €13.6 million, the effective increase in contributary benefits between January and June of this year was of €35 million.
The figures published by the National Statistics Office (NSO) showed a strong increase of €35 million in expenditure on retirement, widow’s and invalidity pensions and in bonus payments to the same pensioners. This was mostly due to the increase of €5 per week, including that of €1.75 for cost of living that all pensioners received this year, due to an increase of 3,600 new pensioners this last year and to the increase of €50 to the annual bonus paid to these persons, mostly women who are not entitled to a contributary pension as they did not have the required amount of paid contributions.
On the other hand, the expenditure on non-contributary benefits exceeded €104 million, an increment of approximately €6 million over the same period in 2020.
The figures published by the National Statistics Office (NSO) showed a drastic increase especially due to the introduction of the additional supplement in children’s allowance and the increase in the rates of supplementary assistance. In fact, there was an increase of nearly €2 million in child benefits, an increase of over €1.5 million in assistance for disabilities and an increase of just over €3 million in supplementary assistance, medical assistance, and in-work benefit.
A very positive indicator is that in the first six months of this year there was a reduction from 1,83 0 persons to 1,380 person who receive the unemployment benefit.
When asked for his comments on these figures, the Minister for Social Justice and Solidarity, the Family and Children’s Rights Michael Falzon said that this year saw an increase of 860 persons who received their pension for the first time thanks to the implementation of a new measure that recognises contributions paid before the age of nineteen.
He stated that the broad range of benefits and increases in payments granted these past six months have once again demonstrated the strength of this government’s social agenda, which remained focused on its work to continue to take stock and improve the quality of life of families with children, pensioners, older persons, persons with disabilities and others despite the huge costs and challenges presented by this pandemic.
Minister Falzon concluded by stating that by the end of this year the expenditure on pensions and social benefits is expected to exceed the record figure of €1.1billion, proving the social commitment of this government which is a government for the people, and which continuously invests in the people.