The Malta Independent 21 May 2019, Tuesday

13.9% cannot afford at least €675 for unexpected costs – NSO 2018 Report

Wednesday, 6 March 2019, 14:37 Last update: about 3 months ago

13.9% of people surveyed in Malta perceive that their household cannot afford to face unexpected financial expenses of €675 and over, according to a report publish by the National Statistics Office (NSO).

The yearly report titled “Estimates of Material Deprivation and Housing Problems” is carried out annually by all European Union Member States under a European framework regulation that came into force in 2004, and in 2018, 3,823 households completed the survey which comprised of 9.815 residents, of whom 8,542 were aged 16 and over.

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According to the report, a person living in a household is deemed to be materially deprived if this person could not afford at least three of the nine deprivation items, and severely materially deprived if this person could not afford at least four.

In 2018, the material deprivation rate stood at 8.7%, whereas the severe material deprivation rate stood at 3.0%. An increase from 2017 of 0.7% from 8%, and a decrease of 0.3% from 3.3% respectively.

Increase in Material Deprivation

To determine whether households are materially deprived, the surveyor queried on the following aforementioned nine items –

  • ability to face unexpected financial expenses;
  • ability to pay for one week’s annual holiday away from home;
  • whether they have been in arrears on mortgage or rent payments, utility bills, hire purchase instalments or other loan payments;
  • ability to have a meal with meat, chicken, fish or vegetarian equivalent every second day;
  • ability to keep home adequately warm in winter;
  • own a washing machine;
  • own a colour TV;
  • own a telephone (including mobile phone);
  • own a car

Seven from the nine categories saw an increase in negative responses, with the largest increase from 6.5% to 8.1% in the question pertaining to whether a household has been in arrear on mortgage or rent payments, utility bills, hire purchase instalments or other loan payments. This totals to 37,702 persons.

Other categories that saw increases were ability to cook protein every second day, heating, affording washing machine, colour TV, telephone, and car. These grew to 5.7%, 7.6%, 0.3%, 0.2%, 0.4%, and 2% respectively.

Two Improvements

From the nine deprivation items the households were polled on, there were improvements in only two of the categories.

From 33.9% in 2017, 30.6% of households were unable to afford to pay for one week’s annual holiday away from home in 2018. This totals to 142,871 persons.

From 15.6% in 2017, 13.9% of households could not afford to face unexpected financial expenses of €675 and over in 2018. This totals to 64,926 persons.

11.8% did not have an internet connection

Apart from the items mentioned above, the survey also collects supplementary statistics on material deprivation and social exclusion from persons living in households aged 16 and over.

From the surveyed households, 11.8% did not have an internet connection for personal use at home, 26.4% did not have a small amount of money each week on themselves, and 32.5% did not participate in a leisure activity.

The percentage share of persons who could not afford the above mentioned deprivation items are 1.9%, 12%, 13.7% respectively.

The report also noted that 15.8% did not have a get-together with friends and family for a drink/meal at least once a month, 7.1% did not have two pairs of properly fitting shoes, and 8.1% are not able to replace worn out clothes with new ones.

The percentage share of persons who could not afford the above mentioned deprivation items are 6.9%, 4.9%, and 4.5% respectively.

30.2% had cleanliness problems in households

With regards to problems being experienced within the main dwelling of the surveyed persons, 30.2% of them had pollution, grime or other environmental problems.

A further 11.1% noted that the dwelling was too dark or did not have enough light, 7.9% complained of leaking roof, damp walls/floors/foundation, or rot in window frames or flow.

0.2% remarked not having a bath or shower in the dwelling which was for the sole use of the household.

29.3% responded to have noise from neighbours or from the street, and 12.5% noted crime, violence or vandalism in the area.

Age Group

When broken down by age group it was found that 10.7% of children between the ages of 0-17 were living in households who are materially deprived. Followed by adults aged 18-64 and the elderly aged over 65 at 8.3%.

Government Statement
In a statement following the publication of the report, the Government celebrated the report as the individuals who are severely materially deprived has been cut to a third of what it was in 2013, and below that of the EU average.
They insisted that these results came from the social measures implemented such as the raising of the national minimum wage, the tapering of social benefits, increases in pensions and other social benefits.
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