4.8 Current debates and reforms
Upcoming political developments
Measures to combat the health emergency caused by COVID-19, including the complete interruption of production activities, immediately produced a high demand for social protection. In order to support the most disadvantaged sections of the population, art. 82 of the Revival Decree (Law 34 of 19 May 2020) therefore established the Emergency Income (REM), an extraordinary support, lasting two months, aimed at households in a state of economic need due to the emergency, which did not have access to the support provided for this purpose by the Decree Cura Italia (law No. 18 of 17 March 2020) for certain categories.
In addition, the health crisis has highlighted even more the critical issues in the composition of welfare expenditure, which is very unbalanced in Italy in favour of cash social benefits to the detriment of those provided through services and interventions. For this reason, the resources of the Social Funds have been increased to strengthen innovative territorial interventions, able to promote the support of the birth rate and the family among the non-self-sufficiency and disability sectors of the population.
Among the most recent measures, the substitution of the Citizenship Income with the so-called Inclusion Allowance (Assegno di Inclusione) is certainly the biggest innovation in the system of social support provided by the state. The measure will be effecting starting from January 1st and it will be directed to a more restricted public and only to families and households, no to individuals, thus changing the current scenario.
Considering the recent decision to reform and to subsequently eliminate the Citizenship Income, it’s difficult to make realistic forecasts of the effects it will have on Italy’s social fabric. According to the latest data by INPS on the Citizenship Income, the number of families which perceived the allowance passed from 1.639.505 units in 2019 to 590.668 in 2023, meaning that more than 1 million families lost that kind of support during the last years, a data which could probably be seen as a cause of the rise of numbers connected with relative poverty in the country. Nonetheless the latest measures coming with the budget law and the Inclusion Allowance in particular, aim at covering the needs of the families that are facing challenging economical situations.
In a similar manner, the latest budget law has announced a number of massive measures aiming at supporting families and mothers with two childrens and more, envisioning tax discounts and incentives for nurseries, with the so called “birth rate bonus” and “nursery bonus”.
Finally, it should also be highlighted, for the possible impact on the future (re)design of policies, the recent institution (December 2019) of the Alliance for Children, a national network of organisations and associations engaged in different ways in the promotion and protection of the rights of children and young people and their parents, who share the responsibility and urgency to raise awareness and pressure on policymakers to implement the necessary reforms and initiatives, and to urge and support local businesses and communities to build environments more conducive to children, youths and their parents.