A reduction in the percentage of people living in poverty is proof the government’s policies were working, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Sunday.

Speaking during a brief phone interview on ONE Radio, Dr Muscat said this reduction was tangible proof of the government’s efforts to fight poverty.

Last week, official figures showed a marginal decline in the percentage of Malta's population that is at risk of poverty or social exclusion in 2018, with another drop also registered in the share of people who are materially deprived. 

It was the fifth year that overall percentages of people living in poverty or on its fringes declined. 

When social exclusion risks were factored out of the data, the at-risk of poverty rate increased marginally to 21.4 per cent, from 21.2 per cent in 2017. 

A look at the absolute shows 78,685 people are at risk of poverty, a 0.1 per cent increase on the 2017 figures.

Dr Muscat said one had to look at the poverty rate in relation to population size, rather than just looking at absolute figures.

He said seven people a day were lifted out of poverty.

The Prime Minister said the newly released figures did not even include the effects of the last two budgets. These effects would be shown in futures statistics, he said.

He said poverty rates were at their lowest since such statistics had begun to be compiled.

Whilst previous administration had dismissed poverty as a perception, the government had taken tangible measures to increase social mobility, Dr Muscat said.

Dr Muscat also pointed towards Eurobarometer figures showing that 85 per cent of Maltese families were optimistic about the country’s economic trajectory.

This figure is twice the European average, the Prime Minister said.

He also pointed towards a 16 per cent increase in the amount of survey respondents who now identified themselves as being middle class.

“Social mobility means moving forward. When there are more people who identify as being middle class, this means the government’s policies are succeeding”, Dr Muscat said.

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