FEATURES » New law aimed at tackling Italian poverty

New law aimed at tackling Italian poverty

A new law aimed at tackling poverty, with a particular focus on assisting families with young children will come into force in the next few weeks, having already received approval from the Italian Senate.

The Italian government has allocated €1.6 billion to the project in 2017, which will be distributed among those in need. Funds are supposed to rise to €2 billion in 2018, taking into account EU contributions.

If in the past measures of this kind were destined for specific categories such as unemployed people or the elderly, for the first time in Italian history the poorest are the young, especially if they have small children. In Italy, there are many families living below the poverty line even if both parents work. The past decade has seen the proportion of Italian minors living in absolute poverty surge from three percent to 11 percent. 

About four hundred thousand households with dependent children, equal to one million and seven hundred and seventy thousand individuals, will benefit from the new law. The current measure to support poor households is called SIA, “Sostegno per l’inclusione attiva” "support for active inclusion" (SIA), which already in 2016 has guaranteed 70 thousand poor families (with at least two minor children) a credit card of 160 Euros monthly. The REI, “Reddito di inclusion”, “Inclusion income” raised the maximum amount allocated for each family from 400 to 480 Euros per month.

Around 400,000 families are expected to benefit from this measure. Families will have to prove they have been resident in Italy for a certain amount of time before they can claim the inclusion income. Those receiving the REI will have to sign a "community pact", promising to adhere to "good standards of civic behaviour". Unemployed adults will have to prove they are actively job-seeking, and parents must ensure that children attend school and are vaccinated.

A gradual increase of the benefit is foreseen and will be extended to families with minor children or children with severe disabilities, pregnant women and unemployed people over 55 years of age.

Istat president - Giorgio Alleva - explained that in 2015, 1 million and 582 thousand households in Italy (about 6% of the total) were estimated to be in absolute poverty, based on the investigation on consumer spending. They were 4 million and 598 thousand people, 7.6% of the entire population. The phenomenon of poverty was more widespread in the South, where 9.1% of families living in the area (about 744,000 families) were estimated to be poor.   

Giulia Lombardo

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