UPDATED: PM announces that people with mental problems and terminal illness to benefit from non-contributory benefits

In his first reaction to the 2019 Budget, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat declared that Government had distributed a lot of benefits and had not added any new tax.

Dr Muscat added that measures not mentioned in the Budget but which will be affecting people in a direct way, include that Government will be giving a stipend to youths aged over 23 and on social benefits, and who decide to continue with their studies. The Prime Minister stated that whilst these youths will continue to receive social benefits, they will be given a stipend equivalent to the minimum wage.

Addressing the media on Castille Square, Dr Muscat declared that in-work benefit will be increased from 50 euro to 100 euro for each child when a person joins the labour market. Dr Muscat further stated that persons with mental and terminal conditions will be able to benefit from non-contributory benefits once they qualify through means tests.

The Prime Minister explained that Government will also be improving the pensions of persons who suffered an injustice, among them those who had worked in a Government entity and retired pre-2008, and those who used to work in Libya.

Dr Muscat said that the increase in children’s allowance goes hand in hand with the Government’s plans to eliminate poverty.

“By next year we will have the first major policy objective of this Government, in other words that no child who lives in a family where there is at least one person in employment, is classified as living in poverty or material deprivation.”

Asked by  TVM about precarious work in the private sector, Dr Muscat said that the Government has begun to address this issue, with an increase of €3 per week for workers who have been on a minimum wage for more than one year. Dr Muscat invited discussions on whether all employees should be obliged to join a union. Speaking about the increase in food prices, Dr Muscat said that the Government has recognized that there are those who are suffering and that the Government will be helping those families to get ahead. Speaking about the motorsports track, Dr Muscat said that the Government was identifying a suitable place while still protecting the environment.