The Malta Independent 26 February 2024, Monday
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Misguided claims on eligibility to the additional mechanism against inflation

Sunday, 12 November 2023, 07:14 Last update: about 5 months ago

In the editorial of the Malta Independent on Sunday the editor made a number of factually incorrect statements that need to be pointed out for the benefits of readers.

The editor claims that the fact that eligibility to the additional mechanism against inflation will be increased to 95,000 households means that “the number of families in great financial distress has more than doubled in one year”. He goes as far as to ask whether “will the number of families to get this little extra rise to 130,000 next year”?

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Leaving aside that “this extra rise” is a benefit that could range between 100 and €1,500, the claim made by the editor is completely misguided. The increase in eligibility to the benefit as has been explained both verbally and in writing to many journalists and stakeholders is due to a change in the methodology used to calculate the benefit. The benefit will now be paid to all households that earn an income below the median equivalised income. In essence this means that nearly half of households will be eligible, whereas before only those low-income households for which income did not increase in line with the inflation rate were eligible.

As regards trends in the number of households at risk of poverty or in financial distress, the editor should refer to recently published statistics by the NSO. On April 23th, the NSO issued its news release NR070/2023 on material deprivation and housing. These indicate that the number of persons (not households) in severe material and social deprivation is 25,370, which is far below the 95,000 households who will be getting the additional benefit against the cost of living. Moreover, rather than rising greatly as implied by the editor, the number of persons in severe material and social deprivation actually fell by nearly 2,000 persons, or by 7%, for the most recent year for which data is available. The same press release indicates that the number of persons with arrears on mortgages, rent, utility bills or other loans also fell by more than 8,500, or by 21%.

Other Eurostat-verified measures of poverty such as the proportion of the population at-risk-of-poverty, the proportion of the population at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion, and the proportion of the population in material and social deprivation also fell during 2022.

This indicates that the claims made by the editor of the Malta Independent on Sunday are not supported by any statistics and are just an opinion not based on facts.

 

Stefan Borg

Communications Coordinator

Ministry for Social Policy and Children’s Rights

 

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