In the past four years, the number of people depending on social benefits decreased by 40%, Jobsplus CEO Clyde Caruana said on Monday.
Caruana discussed the results which emerged from a case study carried out by Jobsplus and the Ministry of the Family and Social Solidarity, five years after the scheme was launched.
Caruana said that in January 2013, social partners meet and agreed in principle on a set of measures which were required to stimulate the labour market. The benefit tapering scheme provides support to people who enter the employment market after being on unemployment assistance, social assistance or single parent benefits.
He explained how the study took form in a questionnaire carried out among 350 social beneficiaries
The study found that, on average, a 30-year-old parent with one child expects to earn €10,921, which is only €1,600 more than the income earned by an employee on the minimum wage.
Number of people depending on social benefits decreased by 40%
Caruana reflected on the reforms which were carried out in this sector and compared between unemployment and social assistance between 2014 and 2018. In 2014 unemployment was at 5,412. The number had dropped to 2,309 by 2018 – a decrease of 75%.
There were 10,361 people depending on social assistance in 2014, but the number dropped by 20%, to 8,296, by 2018.
Caruana said that in four years, the number of people who were depending on social benefits decreased by 40%.
He added that the Government saved more than €24 million in social benefits, and that the expenditure of social assistance as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product improved from 0.94% in 2014 to 0.45% this year.
He noted that the Maltese social benefits measures were not a new concept at the time and compared the UK’s 1997 social reforms and that of Germany’s 2002 Public Employment service reforms. He said that what Malta achieved in four years took 17 years to achieve in the UK.
He concluded that the social risks of 2014 are different from the social risks and challenges which the welfare state is facing today. He appealed for the welfare system continues to evolve and keep up with the fast-paced development of the times.
800 people receive benefits for unemployment
Social Solidarity Minister Michael Falzon said the number of people receiving unemployment benefits has gone down from 4,000 to 800.
He also said that women made up more than two-thirds of those benefitting from the tapering scheme.
Education and Employment Minister Evarist Bartolo said that the effect of this scheme should also be seen on the development of children’s behaviour and progress at schools.
He said that an environment where a family is fully dependent on social benefits has an impact on children’s’ aspirations to work and gain independence. He stressed the importance for children to gain such aspiration to study, work and develop a sense of independence, which ultimately will have an impact on the country as a whole.
Original article found on The Malta Independent