Social protection expenditure increased by 28.6% in 2020

Malta increased its social protection expenditure by 28.6% in 2020, an additional €582.8 million compared to 2019, according to new data released by the National Statistics Office.

The report tracks Malta’s social protection expenditure which provides support to specific vulnerable groups, namely for sickness, disability, old age, survivors, families and children, unemployment, housing and exclusion social.

Specifically, in 2020, the ONS pointed out, the Maltese government has implemented various additional support measures to mitigate the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the end of 2020, Malta’s social expenditure reached €2.6 billion, equivalent to 20.1% of the country’s gross domestic product.

Pandemic employment support measures were the main cause of the sharp increase in social spending, which totaled €410.2 million. Around 96.5% of this figure went to cover basic wages for workers under the wage supplement scheme, with expenditure under the scheme for hospitals and other health establishments also increasing by 80.8 million euros.

Beyond spending on COVID-19 measures, an increase of €52.9 million was reported under the contributory social security benefit scheme, with 12 of Malta’s 19 social protection schemes recording increases in expenses in 2020.

Old-age (933.4 million euros), health care (828.1 million euros) and unemployment benefits (438 million euros) accounted for 83.9% of total social protection expenditure.

In 2019, 22.9 million euros out of 2 billion euros were recovered thanks to social contributions. The majority (52.3%) of the tax was declared under the contributory social security benefit scheme.

In 2020, some 97,070 people received a pension, the majority (56.4%) being men. The bulk of the beneficiaries, some 73,044 people, received old-age pensions.

A total of 33% of the population, or approximately 170,259 people, received at least one type of social security benefit in 2020, with women accounting for 55.8% of total recipients.

In terms of benefits at the local level, Floriana was the city with the highest proportion of people receiving social benefits, with 448 per 1,000 people receiving some kind of benefit. The lowest share was recorded in Swieqi, where 164 out of 1,000 people receive benefits.

The sector with the largest number of beneficiaries is that of old-age benefits, with 71,386 persons or 138 per 1,000 beneficiaries. The sector with the lowest number of recipients in 2020 was unemployment benefits, with only 1.6% of the population registered to receive them.

In 2020, the equivalent of 9.4% of the population received a family allowance, 6.9% a sickness allowance, 4.6% a social exclusion allowance and 1.8% a disability allowance.

On average, Maltese social spending recipients received some €6,032 in income in 2020.

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Joel C. Hicks