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Fewer people at risk of poverty, Social Solidarity Minister says

Almost one in six are at risk, NSO figures suggest

Poverty continues to haunt parts of Maltese society.

Poverty continues to haunt parts of Maltese society.

Updated 2.20pm with PN statement 

Fewer people are at risk of poverty according to the latest survey published by the NSO, Social Solidarity Minister Michael Farrugia said today.

Dr Farrugia said that the 2015 survey, based on 2014 income data, showed that 4,788 fewer people were at risk of poverty when compared to the previous year.

He pointed out that 2014 was the first full year under a Labour government, and its initiatives were paying off.

Dr Farrugia said this was the first drop in the amount of people at risk of poverty since the 2008 survey.

He called the 1.4 per cent drop a “significant reduction” in the amount of people at risk of poverty.

The NSO survey found that there are 68,658 people living in private households, or 16.3 per cent of the population, with income below the poverty threshold. 

According to NSO calculations, the threshold stood at €8,096 last year. The poverty threshold is calculated as 60 per cent of the median National Equivalised Income, which is defined as a household's total disposable income divided by its "equivalent size" to take into account the household's size and age distribution.  

Although there were fewer people at risk of poverty overall, a 4.1 per cent increase was registered among people 65 and over.

Dr Farrugia said the survey had not reflected the increase in pensions introduced by the government, as the measure had been introduced in the 2016 budget.

Dr Farrugia pointed out that the 2015 tapering of benefits had not been reflected in the survey either.

He said from December 2014 to date, there had been a 40 per cent drop in the amount of people registering for work.

“These people have found dignified work and no longer need to depend on benefits,” Dr Farrugia said.

The government would be seeking to further assist the long-term unemployed, he said.

Finance Minister Edward Scicluna noted that the survey, which saw a 1.7 per cent decrease in the number of females at risk of poverty, showed that women had benefitted from a number of government initiatives.

 

Poverty is on the rise - PN

In a statement reacting to the NSO statistics, the Nationalist Party said that the number of people at risk of poverty had actually increased to 95,250 from 88,000 at the time of the 2013 general election. 

The NSO figures, the PN said, confirmed what NGO Caritas had warned about in a report published last May. In that report, Caritas had argued that essential items had risen in price and that the minimum wage was too low to prevent households from falling into the poverty trap. 

The PN cited Simon Busuttil's proposal to restore rental rates for government properties to their previous level as an example of the party's eagerness to help people struggling to make ends meet. 

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