Nearly 4,000 families will be assisted by the in-work benefit measure – Family Minister

Family and Social Solidarity Minister Michael Falzon

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Nearly 4,000 families are eligible for the in-work benefit, one of the many measures which form part of the government’s economic regeneration plan.

“We have seen the number of families applying for the in-work benefit double, since March of this year there are 3,895 families eligible for the in-work benefit, which means such a benefit is also affecting 6,400 children,” Family, Children’s Rights and Social Solidarity Minister Michael Falzon said today. 

On Monday the government announced the “Better Tomorrow” plan, which involves a number of measures, which also consider the social aspect. “We have passed through difficult times, and we might face more on the way, but we must see how we can make a better tomorrow,” he explained.

Addressing a news conference on Friday morning, Falzon pointed out the number of social measures which are to benefit families, children, and young couples. The in-work benefit, he explained, will see an increase in rate, which now has been extended by €250, where now parents or single parents can receive up to €1,400 per child.

He also mentioned that the €100 vouchers which are eligible for all those living in Malta over the age of 16 years old will benefit not just average family households, but also small family businesses. “We enjoy seeing families going out to eat or taking a weekend break, but from another perspective, such vouchers will continue the growth of the country’s domestic consumption. We also cannot forget that there are many small businesses that are family-run, and therefore such vouchers will help them too.”

IWB BeneficiariesDec-15Dec-16Dec-17Dec-18Dec-19Mar-20
Single Parent in Emp7868781,0141,2691,4501,592
Both Parents in Emp5504848111,0281,0591,159
Couple 1 PRNT in Emp 3558721,0461,0711,144
Total1,3361,7172,6973,3433,5803,895

Falzon explained that these new measures are an addition to the 2020 budget and that despite COVID-19, the government continues to provide to the Maltese and Gozitans. “Despite the difficult moments, we never increased taxes or prices; instead we continue to aid and give to businesses and those in need.” He pointed out that as of next Monday fuel prices will be reduced by 7 cents per litre and that tax deferrals announced last March will continue until the end of August. He said that childcare is still provided for free by the government and pensions are still being provided and every year increased.

He also mentioned that there is a measure for those couples who had to cancel their wedding due to COVID-19. Couples are eligible to receive €2,000 from the government in order to help them cover expenses already paid. He also mentioned that for families looking to buy property there will also be a noticeable deduction in stamp duty, which also apples to those buying property under the first-time buyer scheme.

Nursing homes who voluntarily did a lockdown and remained with residents: thank you

Falzon also showed his gratitude and thanks to all those workers who voluntarily lived with residents at nursing homes. “Whilst as a government we decided to not go under complete lockdown, we saw that our nursing homes took the decision voluntarily and decided to live with residents during this difficult period, we thank you,” said Falzon. He said that unlike other countries, Malta did not have to wipe out any nursing homes. He said that there was a vote to provide€2 million for additional expenses that San Vincent might have had during the pandemic.

He pointed out that San Vincenz had no deaths linked to COVID-19 and that it shows how the workers and professionals worked very hard.

Social solidarity, mental health, and solitude should be included in the next budget

During the pandemic, the Ministry set up a number of helplines, one in particular to help those suffering from solitude. Falzon highlighted that such a helpline will remain post-COVID-19 so as to provide some form of aid to those who suffer from solitude. Whilst he did not have official numbers, he said that the line 1772 receives around an average of 80 phone calls per day. “This helpline is not to provide a service such as providing groceries or medicine, but for those people who are truly suffering from solitude and for a few minutes in their day to speak to someone,” said Falzon.

When asked about the upcoming Budget in October, Falzon said he wishes to strengthen the aid for loneliness, people suffering from mental health and increase social solidarity. “1 in every three people will from one time or another suffer with a mental health challenge, and we must address this and find ways to help these people.”