Since it went live in May, the call centre for social insurance and welfare benefits enquiries has taken some 230,000 calls, MPs heard on Monday.

Just under half of the calls concerned welfare benefits, according to a memo submitted to parliament by Deputy Welfare Minister Marilena Evangelou.

She was at the House finance committee discussing her ministry’s budget for 2024.

Operated by a private company, the 1450 call centre was set up to get around red tape but also civil servants’ penchant not to answer the phone. It is open from Monday through Friday, from 8am to 5pm.

In addition to the call centre, the ministry has established eight service points across the island to help people with paperwork and applications. To date, more than 25,000 people have received service.

Evangelou said the intention is to evolve these service points into district-level one-stop shops staffed with social workers as well.

The minister also referred to the possibility to file applications for Guaranteed Minimum Income online, available as of June 30 this year.

Regarding the ministry’s budget for 2024, it comes to €614.5 million. The amount set aside for benefits is €436.3 million.