Spending on Social Security Benefits totalled €555.3 million during the first half of 2020, 8.5 per cent higher than the corresponding period in 2019. Both Contributory and Non-Contributory benefits reported an increase in outlay, the former accounting for €41.9 million, or 96.7 per cent, of the total rise in social outlay.
Government spending towards Contributory Benefits amounted to €457.1 million, €13.6 million of which comprised the COVID-19 social benefits. Total Contributory spending rose by 10.1 per cent from the previous year. In addition to the COVID-19 social expenses, higher spending was reported on Pensions in respect of Retirement (€21.1 million), Widowhood (€3.4 million), Contributory Bonus (€3.1 million) and Other Benefits (€1.2 million). In contrast, lower expenditure was reported under Pensions in respect of Invalidity (€0.5 million) and Benefits in respect of Industrial Injuries and Gratuities (€0.1 million).
By the end of June 2020, Non-Contributory expenditure reached €98.2 million, a 1.5 per cent increase from 2019. Disability Pensions/Allowance registered the highest rise at €1.3 million, followed by Old Age Pension (€1.2 million), Child Allowance (€0.5 million), Supplementary Allowance (€0.3 million), Medical Assistance (€0.2 million), Non-Contributory Bonus and In-Work Benefit (both €0.1 million).
Conversely, spending towards Total Social Assistance declined by €2.2 million.
In the second quarter of 2020, social benefits expenditure was €30.1 million higher than the same period in 2019 and totalled €312.4 million. Contributory spending rose by €29.7 million, stemming from the introduction of the COVID-19 benefits together with €11.9 million additional spending towards Pensions in respect of Retirement (Table 4). A marginal increase of €0.4 million was exhibited under Non-Contributory expenditure.
Social Security Beneficiaries
During the first half of 2020, the largest number of Contributory beneficiaries was reported under the Two-Thirds Pension (51,601). In comparison to 2019, the Unemployment and Sickness benefits reported the biggest increase (2,537) and decrease (1,570) in recipients, respectively. Furthermore, there were 8,791 individuals who benefitted from the COVID-19 social benefits (Table 2).
Children’s Allowance reported the highest share of Non-Contributory recipients, with 41,854 families in receipt of the benefit. The same benefit recorded the largest increase (1,308) in beneficiaries, while the highest drop (600) in recipients was witnessed under Supplementary Allowance.
Similar developments were recorded between April and June 2020, with the Two-Thirds Pension (50,701) and Children’s Allowance (40,965) reporting the largest cohorts of Contributory and NonContributory benefi ciaries, respectively.