Updated November 22 to note homes with disabilities
The town of Żejtun has more residents receiving a severe disability allowance than any other town in Malta or Gozo, data published in parliament has revealed.
There are 198 people in Żejtun receiving severe disability benefits, the data showed. That is more than the 179 in Birkirkara, 152 in Qormi or 146 in Fgura.
Żejtun has a population of 12,409, according to Census data, making it smaller than all those other towns. Birkirkara, for instance, has a population of almost 26,000, Qormi has just over 18,000 residents while Fgura is marginally larger, with 13,066 residents.
Malta’s largest town by population, St Paul’s Bay, has 125 people registered as eligible for severe disability benefit payments. Swieqi, Xlendi and Żebbiegħ have the fewest, with just one each.
In total, there are 3,679 people in Malta who are receiving the benefit payments.
The data was tabled by Social Policy Minister Michael Falzon in reply to a parliamentary question by Opposition MP Graziella Attard Previ.
Żejtun is one of several towns in Malta that hosts homes for people with disabilities, with Fondazzjoni Nazareth operating three residences in the locality.
There is no indication that any of the recipients listed in the data are ineligible for payments or doing so fraudulently, but Żejtun’s top billing is curious as it is the hometown of the medical doctor at the heart of an ongoing investigation into benefit fraud.
Former Labour MP Silvio Grixti is suspected of being at the centre of a fraud that allowed benefit fraudsters to cash in monthly welfare payments by falsely claiming to be severely disabled.
Fraudsters who were arrested and prosecuted told investigators that they would receive an envelope from Grixti and other, unnamed fixers full of falsified documents that they would then use to obtain disability certification.
Police have so far arraigned 184 people and charged them with benefit fraud, Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri told parliament last week.
Grixti, who resigned from parliament when police started probing the scam in late 2021, has not been charged with any crime and has only spoken through social media posts.
In those posts, he has implied that he has been abandoned by the Labour Party, which he accused of “protecting” Nationalists like MP Stephen Spiteri.
Spiteri, who is also a doctor, was investigated by the Medical Council following allegations that he issued medical certificates to people without examining them.
The issue came to light when a Lovin Malta journalist called the pharmacy where Spiteri worked and was told he could leave €5 and collect a certificate the next day.
But the probe into Spiteri ended abruptly when a court ruled that the council did not have the legal right to conduct its investigation. The government chose not to appeal that decision.