Government Expenditure on Social Security Benefits: A rise totalling €36.2 million was recorded during 2017

Social Security Benefits Expenditure

Latest data published by the National Statistics Office (NSO) shows that in 2017, €936.9 million was spent by the Government to cover social security benefits. This reflected a 4.0 per cent rise when compared to 2016 and was the result of a €37.5 million hike in Contributory outlay. Conversely, a slight decrease of €1.3 million was reported under Non-Contributory expenditure.

The total Contributory Benefits outlay in 2017 was €749.7 million, 5.3 per cent higher than 2016. Pensions in respect of Retirement recorded the largest increase in expenditure with €29.7 million more spent in 2017, mainly to cover the rise in Two-thirds Pension (€28.8 million). Further increases were reported under Pensions in respect of Widowhood (€9.1 million), the catalyst being a €6.1 million rise in Survivors’ Pension, and Contributory Bonus (€2.7 million). On the other hand, drops in outlay were registered by Pensions in respect of Invalidity (€2.9 million), Other Benefits (€1.1 million) and Benefits in respect of Industrial Injuries and Gratuities (€0.1 million).

In 2017, Non-Contributory expenditure amounted to €187.2 million, reflecting a slight drop of 0.7 per cent when compared to 2016. The decline followed €7.1 million less being spent on Social Assistance, the result of a €4.3 million drop in Unemployment Assistance outlay. Child Allowance also recorded a decrease totalling €1.1 million, as did Non-Contributory Bonus (€0.2 million). These drops were partially offset by rises in outlay reported under Old Age Pension (€3.4 million), Disability Pension/Allowance (€2.2 million), Supplementary Assistance (€1.3 million), In-Work Benefit (€0.2 million) and Medical Assistance (€0.1 million).

Between October and December 2017, €233.7 million was spent on Social Security Benefits, 80.4 per cent of which was used to cover Contributory benefits. Contributory expenditure rose by €2.8 million, the outcome of a €10.0 million surge in Pensions in respect of Retirement. As was the case for the whole of 2017, a €1.3 million downturn was reported in Non-Contributory spending. Drops of €1.9 million and €1.3 million in Social Assistance and Medical Assistance contributed to this development.

Social Security Beneficiaries

In 2017 a total of 48,345 persons received a Two-Thirds Pension, making this social benefit the one with the largest number of recipients among all the social benefits during the reference year. In addition, the Two-Thirds Pension registered the biggest increase in Contributory beneficiaries with 2,848 more pensioners than 2016. Conversely, the largest drops in recipients were reported under the Sickness (501) and Unemployment Benefits (492).

The largest share of Non-Contributory recipients consisted of Children’s Allowance (43,753), followed by Supplementary Assistance (25,340). It was the latter that recorded the largest rise in beneficiaries with 1,096 more than 2016 and slightly higher than the increase of 1,077 persons registered by the In-Work Benefit. The Unemployment Assistance reported the biggest decline in recipients with 1,644 less recipients.

Between October and December 2017, Two-Thirds pensioners contributed the largest share of Contributory beneficiaries with 46,840 recipients while the Children’s Allowance formed the greatest cohort of Non-Contributory recipients (40,956).