Pensioners disappointed at Budget, warn of poverty risk

National Association of Pensioners say the risk of poverty rate and material deprivation among the elderly has increased

Despite an increase in the minimum pension of 12,000 pensioners, the National Association of Pensioners has warned of the increased risk of poverty rate and material deprivation in Malta.
Despite an increase in the minimum pension of 12,000 pensioners, the National Association of Pensioners has warned of the increased risk of poverty rate and material deprivation in Malta.

The National Association of Pensioners has voiced its disappointment at the Budget, claiming that in spite of the measures intended on alleviating the most vulnerable of pensioners, the risk of poverty rate and material deprivation has increased.

The government’s measures will see 12,000 pensioners on minimum pension receive an increase of between €4.15 and €8.92 per week, the highest receivers being those aged over 75. Similarly, married couples on a minimum pension not affected by the measure will also increase a weekly increase of €4.15 per week over and above COLA adjustment as from next year.

But despite the increase in minimum pensions and the risk of social exclusion decreasing, Moses Azzopardi, the President of the National Association of Pensioners, has warned of the increasing poverty rates and severe material deprivation.

“The severe materially deprived increased from 9.5% to 10.2% while the materially deprived increased to 20.2% … These figures give the data about the whole population, yet data on persons aged over 65 give a bleaker picture as those at risk at risk of being severally material deprived has increased 16.9%, up by 2%.”

“This happened in a period of economic growth; to say it simply, the cake is now bigger but the piece reserved to those aged over 65 is now smaller,” Moses Azzopardi, the Association’s president said.

Azzopardi also said that the increase in the minimum pension to single persons and to couples receiving one pension is much less than the €11,508 equivilized income for a couple.

The Association of pensioners also called for an increase in the maximum pensionable income as this had been had remained unchanged for the past 20 years.

While welcoming the measure of giving financial assistance to carers, Azzopardi said this sum should not be linked to the amount of the minimum wage.

The National Association of Pensioners also noted that the mandatory retirement will no longer be linked to pensions age, and it is to be extended by four years on a voluntary basis as an option by the employee.

“The Association agrees with the measure but no reason is given why the measure only applied to employees engaged in the private sector,” it noted.

“It was noted that those who do not apply to start receiving their pension after retirement would be given 1% more for every year they continued to work. If this means that the pension would no longer be awarded if a person opts to work, then we do not agree with this measure, more so since the participation rate of the over 50s in Malta is still the lowest in the EU,” it continued.

More in Budget 2016