Beneficiaries of the in-work benefit scheme are expected to double to 14,000 following an increase in income ceilings, Social Policy Minister Michael Falzon said on Thursday.

He said this was in line with the government’s policy to make work pay.

The in-work benefit is aimed to assist couples and single parents who are in a gainful occupation and who have children under 23 years still dependent on them and living with them.  It is not applicable to those who receive "tapering of benefits".

The benefit is paid quarterly in January, April, July and October and ranges from €200 to €1,500 per child.

Those eligible are: couples in gainful employment whose collective net income from employment is greater than €10,000 and less than €50,000; a couple with only one in gainful employment and whose net income from employment is greater than €6,600 and less than €35,000 or a single parent in gainful employment that earns more than €6,600 and less than €35,000.

Falzon said that whereas 1,400 were eligible for the benefit when it was first launched in 2015, the number increased to 7,200 last year and is expected to reach some 14,000 after the ceiling on maximum earnings was raised to €50,000 from €35,000 for couples and to €35,000 from €26,000 and €22,000 for the working parent and single parent categories.

He said that thanks to digitisation, there is no need to apply for the benefit as this will be done through an automatic process and people eligible for the benefit will be informed by the Social Security Department.

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