Updated at 9.05am: Adds PL statement
A quarter of Maltese children remain at risk of poverty or social exclusion, despite a slight improvement over the past six years, European data shows.
Figures issued by the European Union’s statistics bureau on the occasion of Universal Children’s Day this week show that 24 per cent of those aged from birth to 17 years were at risk of poverty in 2016.
This reflects an overall drop from 26.7 per cent in 2010. According to these figures, the percentage of Maltese children at risk of poverty increased to 32 per cent in 2013, gradually decreasing to 31 per cent and 28 per cent in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
Overall, the data from Eurostat shows that 24.8 million children in the EU – or one-quarter of the population aged below 18 – were at risk of poverty or social exclusion last year.
This means these children were living in households with at least one of three conditions: at risk of poverty after social transfers, severely materially deprived or with very low work intensity.
Figures show that in a large majority of EU Member States, the proportion of children at risk of poverty or social exclusion decreased, with an average drop from 27.5 per cent in 2010 to 26.4 per cent in 2016.
The largest drop was recorded in Latvia, with notable decreases also registered in Poland, Ireland, Hungary, Bulgaria and Lithuania.
In contrast, the largest increases were observed in Greece and Cyprus, followed by Sweden and Italy.
Meanwhile, contrasting trends were observed across the States. While almost half of the children in Romania and Bulgaria were at risk of poverty or social exclusion, at the opposite end of the scale, 14 per cent and 15 per cent, respectively, were in this position in Denmark and Finland.
In a statement on Thursday, the Labour Party said expressed satisfaction that the number of children under 18 at risk of poverty or social exclusion had gone down by 6,000 under Labour.
It encouraged the government to keep working on reducing this number, which had increased under thelast legislature of the Nationalist government.