With reference to the Times of Malta editorial (March 4), the Ministry for the Family and Social Solidarity would like to highlight the following.
A National Strategic Policy for Poverty Reduction and Social Inclusion covering the period 2014-2024 was launched on December 19, 2014.
It bears pointing out that this comprehensive policy, which is based on extensive consultation, addresses poverty from six dimensions which include social services, health and environment, culture, income and social benefits, education and employment, as mentioned in the editorial. This goes to show that Malta’s social policymakers are very much aware of the multifaceted root causes of poverty which extend beyond the financial dimension.
The absolute majority of persons in receipt of social benefits are genuine people who deserve the financial support provided through the State’s safety net.
However, the Ministry for the Family and Social Solidarity also recognisesthat there may be some who seek to abuse the system.
In view of this, the ministry has a fully-fledged department equipped with the necessary mechanism to identify and address benefit fraud as much as thisis possible.
The ministry’s policy direction continues to focus upon complementing financial benefits with a range of measures and initiatives that not only combat poverty but also promote active inclusion and empower vulnerable groups to become less welfare dependent.
These include initiatives, part of which were already introduced in 2014 and 2015, that encourage people, particularly those who may be disadvantaged, to enter and remain in the labour market or to take up education and training.
The ministry has a fully-fledged department equipped with the necessary mechanism to identify and address benefit fraud
Such a commitment is also evident in the National Strategic Policy for Poverty Reduction and Social Inclusion (2014-2024) which targets Malta’s population in general and four target populations in particular, namely children, elderly persons, unemployed people and the working poor.
The assertion made in the editorial that the breakdown of the traditional family unit mechanistically causes an increased risk of poverty is considered to be arather simplistic analysis of the root causes of poverty.
In fact, the national strategic policy presents various policy actions that take into account the different family forms that are present in current Maltese society, which include dual-earner families and single-parent families.
As per current best practice, the national strategic policy takes an evidence-based approach, using the latest available national and EU data.
In view of this, it may be pertinent to ask why an editorial tackling poverty in Malta and asking for “social metrics to be built into the formula” quotes data based on the US?
In concluding, the National Strategic Policy for Poverty Reduction and Social Inclusion (2014-2024) which puts forward a total of 94 strategic policy actions, may be accessed through the website of the ministry. (http://mfss.gov.mt/en/Pages/Policies.aspx).
Claudia Cuschieri is PA/communications coordinator, Ministry for the Family
and Social Solidarity