In 2017, there were 83,000 people in Malta at risk of poverty or social exclusion, according to Eurostat.

The number is up from 81,000 in 2008.

The definition includes those who were in at least one of the following three conditions: income poverty, severely materially deprived or living in households with very low work intensity.

The trend in Malta goes against that in the EU, where 112.9 million people fell into this category, down from 116 million in 2008.

Eurostat reported on Tuesday that after three consecutive increases between 2009 and 2012 to reach almost 25 per cent, the proportion of persons at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU has since continuously decreased to 22.5 per cent last year, 1.2 percentage points below its 2008 reference-point and 1 percentage point below the 2016 level.

In Malta, the percentage dropped between 2008 and 2017 because it is based on the total population which has increased.

The reduction of the number of persons at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU is one of the key targets of the Europe 2020 strategy.

• More than a third of the population was at risk of poverty or social exclusion in three member states: Bulgaria (38.9%), Romania (35.7%) and Greece (34.8%)

• The lowest shares of persons being at risk of poverty or social exclusion were recorded in the Czech Republic (12.2%), Finland (15.7%) and Slovakia (16.3%)

• The at 'risk of poverty or social exclusion' rate has grown since 2008 in 10 member states

• The highest increases were recorded in Greece (+6.7 percentage points), Italy (+3.4 pp) and Spain (+2.8 pp)

• The largest decrease was observed in Poland (-11.0 pp), followed by Romania (-8.5 pp) and Latvia (-6.0 pp)

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