Italy Approves Anti-Poverty Package

2019 ias preliminary exam test series

The Italian parliament passed the first ever anti-poverty provision aimed at ensuring a stable economic support to poor families in the country.

So far, the government has allocated 1.6 billion euros (1.7 billion U.S. dollars) to the measure in 2017. Yet, the annual budget would rise to 2 billion euros in both 2017 and 2018, once an expected contribution from the European Union (EU) was added to the domestic resources.

An income worth between 400 euros and 480 euros per month will be provided to deprived families, according to their own earnings, and starting with couples with young children, and unemployed people over 55 first.

The measure represents an essential pillar of the national plan against poverty, and it fills a long-standing gap in the Italian welfare system in terms of protection of low-income individuals.

Italy was the only EU country, together with Greece, to lack a structural provision against poverty.

The supportive income would be provided only under certain conditions, such as the regular attendance of the children at school, and the commitment of the unemployed to seek a job.

Some 400,000 families, or 1.77 million individuals (out of a population of about 60 millions), are expected to benefit from the measure, considering the amount of funds currently allocated.

According to official data, however, the package will not reach all those in need in the country. Families living in absolute poverty in 2015 were in fact 1.58 million — or some 4.59 million individuals — the National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT) said in a report in July 2016.

The rate of absolute poverty was 6.1 percent in 2015, against 5.7 percent in 2014, and 6.3 percent in 2013.

In terms of number of individuals, people in abject poverty were 7.6 percent of the whole population in 2015, from 6.8 percent in 2014, and 7.3 percent in 2013.

The most exposed to extreme deprived conditions were families of four members, couples with two children, and families with all members of foreign origins.

Yet, after the long and deep recession that hit the country in the last years, a much wider section of the society would be dangerously close to deprivation.

Some 28.7 percent of the Italian population was in fact estimated as being “at risk of poverty or social exclusion” in 2015.

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