Senior citizens will see their pensions increase by an extra €7 a week, inclusive of the cost-of-living adjustment, in what is the biggest pension increase since 1980, Finance Minister announced while unveiling the government’s Budget for 2020.
This means that, apart from the €3.49 cost-of-living adjustment per week, pensioners will get an additional €3.51 weekly, or €364 a year, in a measure that will cost the exchequer €16 million (excluding Cola) and will benefit 92,000 retirees.
Prof. Scicluna emphasised that this was the fifth year in a row that the government was increasing the social security pensions.
The tax-free maximum threshold will also be raised, thus ensuring that all government pensions remain tax-free.
Meanwhile low-income pensioners will get a supplementary income of €150 a year in a measure that will benefit 16,000 pensioners.
The €300 annual grant for 75-year-olds living in their own homes or with relatives will be continued to the benefit 30,000 people. Those over 80 will get a €350 grant to the benefit of a further 18,000 people. This year the grant will, for the first time, be extended to some 900 pensioners who are paying to live in retirement homes from their own pocket.
Elderly widows or widowers who have children 18 or under will be entitled to a €10 a week allowance, whether or not they work.
New incentives will also be introduced for the 4,400 pensioners who are still receiving a service pension where, once again, €200 will be added to the amount of service pension which is deducted from the social security pension.
Those who worked in the police force, army, civil protection of as correctional officers – and started working elsewhere after retiring following 25 years of service - will be able to benefit from a higher pension rate due to changes in the way pension is calculated. They will be able to include their pre-pension salary, when computing their pension eligibility.
Prof. Scicluna announced that, in 2020 government will issue another savings bond for pensioners. An investment scheme, introduced for the first time two years ago to boost the income of retirees, is to be repeated. Dubbed ‘Savings Bonds 62+’, the scheme offers bonds issued by the government with better income than those available on the market. According to Prof. Scicluna, some 6,300 new pensioners will become eligible to invest in these bonds in 2020.
There will, once again, be financial incentives for individual and companies investing in private pension schemes.
Free public transport will now be extended to people aged 75 and over in a measure set to benefit 19,000 people. Currently, all 16-year-olds and full-time students can ride buses for free.