Anti-poverty action plans were ‘gimmick’

Social Policy minister to present new anti-poverty strategy to Cabinet by January 2014

Two action plans aimed at reducing Matla's at-risk-of-poverty rate were "gimmicks", the government's consultant on poverty strategy Yana Mintoff Bland said today.

Mintoff Bland, who is a consultant to social policy minister Marie Louise Coleiro Preca on a new anti-poverty and social exclusion strategy, said Malta's at-risk-of-poverty rate had increased by 7,000 from 2006 to 2010, and by 5,000 in just one year between 2010 and 2011.

88,000 people in Malta are believed to be living at risk of poverty, a term that describes the share of people whose equivalised disposable income after social benefits, below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold: namely, 60% of the national median equivalised disposable income, after social benefits.

The indicator measures low in comparison to other residents in that country, which does not necessarily imply a low standard of living.

Mintoff Bland said that in the previous two schemes launched by the Nationalist government, a lack of continuity between them had rendered them fruitless. "In the most common cases, training schemes that lasted a few weeks were not followed-up with actual work placements. Their aims were not reached."

Coleiro Preca said she will be presenting the new strategy, which is mandated by the EU, to Cabinet by the end of January 2014. She said the first draft will be sent to specialists and NGOs for consultation, and afterwards to all the ministries for their feedback.

“The participation of all ministries is important because poverty is a holistic issue. It is an urgent issue and does not only concern one sector or another; it is not just about housing, or economy, or energy. For the strategy to be successful, a holistic approach is needed,” Mintoff Bland explained.

Minister Coleiro Preca added that the EU Commission imposed the need for a strategy as a consequence of previous administration’s failed action plans, and that the ministry had to start from scratch. The strategy should cater for the next ten years. She announced it is not the only strategy her ministry is working on, saying around seven national policies are being devised including on housing and pensions.

The Ministry for Family is currently working on establishing Family Resource Centers, tapering of some benefits and correct injustice situations.

Malta must reduce its at-risk-poverty-rate by 6,500 people by the year 2020 as part of the EU's strategy to strike off 20 million people from this rate.

"In the most common cases, training schemes that lasted a few weeks were not followed-up with actual work placements. Their aims were not reached."..... 100% right what's the use of training someone but then not providing him or her with a job?