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Caritas Malta Study: A Minimum Budget for a Decent Living

Caritas Malta today (16th March 2012) launched a study proposing A Minimum Budget for a Decent Living which is a follow-up to a previous research on poverty published by Caritas Malta in May 2010. While in that research a basket of essential items had been assembled and its cost estimated on the basis of the average spending of the average Maltese household, the current study is based on the Budget Standard Approach rather than the average consumer expenditure. It sets out to establish a basic minimum threshold which it would be unacceptable for any household not to attain.

In previous interventions on combating poverty, Caritas Malta Director Mgr. Victor Grech had made a number of suggestions to improve the status of low income households which were at the risk of poverty. These included

  • a redefinition of the national poverty line;
  • a revision of the minimum wage;
  • a revision of social benefits;
  • the formation of co-operatives;
  • more attention to secondary school students who do not continue their studies;
  • higher priority in social assistance to the more vulnerable in society;
  • equity in the rate of increase in the income of higher and lower earners;
  • a clampdown on tax evasion; and
  • better cooperation between Parliament, Church, NGOs, public and private enterprise and honest citizens to raise those living in poverty out of their situation.

 

Caritas Malta Director Mgr Victor Grech addressing the Press Conference 

 

The Minimum Budget for a Decent Living focuses on three low income household categories: two adults and two children; a lone parent and two children; and a household of two older persons, all benefiting from some form of social assistance including housing and medicines. Families which do not benefit from financial assistance evidently incur higher costs.

A basket of basic articles and services was assembled with a frugal approach with items in eight categories:- food; clothing; personal care; health; household goods, maintenance and services; education and leisure; transport, and housing. The basket does not necessarily reflect the consumption patterns of the Maltese.

Most of the prices quoted are mainly based on those prevalent in the reference month of September 2011, with others sourced from the expenditure of the lowest income quartile reported in the Household Budgetary Survey 2008 provided by the National Statistics Office.

The study concludes that the minimum essential budget for a household of two adults and two children is estimated at €10,634, a lone parent and two children at €8,581 and for two older persons at €6,328.

The authors of the study with Mgr. Victor Grech at the Press Conference  Left to right:  Joe Sammut,

Leonid McKay (lead author),Mgr. Grech, Karm Farrugia and Susanne Piscopo 

This Caritas Malta study presents recommendations to:

  1. Raise the statutory minimum wage to €180 per week as indicated in Section 4.1.3 of the study.
  2. Address with urgency the financial situation of lone parent families, which are at the highest risk of poverty.
  3. Define an adequate minimum income for persons whose household revenue is below the Minimum Essential Budget.
  4. Strengthen the social security benefits for people whose income is less than the Minimum Essential Budgets.
  5. Conduct further studies to compare the Minimum Essential Budgets with the actual consumption patterns of the three household types.
  6. Develop a system whereby the State intervenes to cover at least the NI contributions for those whose income falls below the Minimum Essential Budgets.
  7. Ensure that entitlement to free medication through the public health system is reviewed regularly to reflect a just and accessible system within a sustainable health care system.
  8. Invest in community level projects for more sustainable and adequate consumption patterns and lifestyles for Maltese families.
  9. Nurture the right attitudes and skills in schools from a young age towards becoming responsible citizens.

Caritas Malta is offering this study to stimulate a national debate and encourage policy makers to establish a minimum benchmark for a decent standard of living. 

Posted on Thursday, March 15, 2012 by Unit Promotion