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In Italy, the governance of social policies aimed at combating poverty and achieving social inclusion involves a plurality of public entities, intervening in different levels of planning and implementation. They are joined by certain categories of private entities in the definition of measures.
In general, the definition of social policies is entrusted to the national and territorial state authorities, according to a division of powers which, following the constitutional revision of 2001, assigns to the State the definition of the essential levels of benefits and to the Regions the legislative competence on interventions and services ("competing legislation"), while municipalities, provinces and metropolitan cities have regulatory authority in relation to the discipline of the organization and the performance of their assigned functions. The Government and the Regions define the model of managing the process of planning and implementing social policies of inclusion and integration of disadvantaged parties, through the adoption of interventions and measures defined by law.
The non-profit sector, through a wide network of actors, performs functions of mediation and representation of the specific needs of the individual territories in which they operate, sharing and supporting the general objectives defined by the national authorities. This outlines a layered system of actors that define welfare measures.
Specifically, at the national level, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy designs, implements and coordinates interventions on labour policy, the adequacy of the social security system, social policies, with particular reference to the prevention and reduction of the conditions of need and distress of people and families. The main areas in which the Ministry performs its functions are:
The definition of the discipline of social safety nets and training; wage integration treatments, employment social insurance, unemployment and mobility treatment and related contribution aspects; the promotion and coordination of training policies; the activation of inter-professional funds for continuous training; the definition of essential levels of benefits in terms of recognition and certification of skills and alternation of school-work; and the introduction of inter-professional funds for continuous training; and the definition of essential levels of benefits in terms of recognition and certification of skills and alternation of school-work;
The implementation of social security and insurance policies; high supervision and guidance on supplementary pension schemes;
Policies to combat poverty and social planning; with particular reference to pensions, social benefits and disability benefits; the implementation of the Equivalent Economic Situation Indicator (ISEE) discipline; the definition of policies for children and adolescence as well as for the protection of minors and the fight against child labour; policies for people with disabilities and non-self-sufficient persons.
Integration policies and those aimed at immigration;the coordination of activities related to the protection of foreign minors; the promotion and coordination of humanitarian interventions in Italy and abroad attributed to the Ministry;
The promotion and support of activities carried out by third sector actors and social enterprises, including the implementation of the relevant legislation.
The Ministry, in order to effectively fulfil its role, is helped by other bodies operating in specific fields. For example, the National Agency for Active Labour Policies (ANPAL) has been set up to strengthen labour-oriented policies to coordinate interventions for jobseekers and to manage the relocation of the unemployed.
In the social sphere, in 2017 with the Proxy Act 33/2017 the Network of Protection and Social Inclusion was established (art. 21 of the Lgs. D. 147/2017 ReI),a body coordinating interventions and social services chaired by the Minister of Labour and Social Policy and made up of representatives of the regions, autonomous provinces, local authorities and the INPS, with the aim of fostering greater territorial homogeneity in the provision of benefits and defining guidelines for the interventions indicated. Law 26/2019, establishing the Citizenship Income (RdC), has been set up within the Network as a guidance framework and with the aim of facilitating the implementation of the RdC.
In this context, the Government sets out the general principles of the National Poverty Countering Strategy and its Plan for Anti-Poverty Social Interventions and Services and its budget (to apply to both national resources of the Poverty Fund and Community resources through the Inclusion PON). It establishes, with law 26/2019, that the Covenant for Work and the Covenant for Social Inclusion and the support required by them, as well as the multidimensional evaluation that precedes them, are essential levels of benefits.
The Regions implement their own planning of interventions in line with the national poverty plan, realising the principle of horizontal subsidiarity of social autonomy in the territory, from the perspective of an integrated system of interventions.
Specifically, regional authorities play a role in promoting socio-economic development from a bottom-up planning process. It starts from the needs of the people, from the needs of the territory and, through a process of negotiation and consultation between the different actors (e.g. Conference of the Regions, Provinces, Committee of Mayors, etc.), the measures to be taken are defined, summarized in the c.d. POR (Regional Operational Plans). The POR will then be implemented across territorial realities.
Regions are committed, for example, to:
attend national interventions with their own active policies such as "public utility work" and social inclusion internships;
promote and facilitate the involvement of for-profit companies, including in the area of corporate welfare;
take actions to reduce poverty and marginality for people and families with severe social distress
promote inclusion at work, including actions to combat personal, family and housing hardship;
reinforce the provision and improvement of the quality of social and health care services, also in respect to early childhood and minors.
Private bodies at the local level, alongside public bodies, complete the framework of those interested in sharing social inclusion policies, namely associations. They act as mediators between the actors involved in defining the interventions, and spokesperson of the needs of the territory in which they operate.
For example, social promotion associations are organisations of the third sector that carry out social activities for associates or third parties. They contribute to the achievement of social, civil, cultural goals and ethical and spiritual research by promoting participation and solidarity. In this regard, the Ministry of Labour promotes the recognition and support of the freely constituted association and its operational interventions in the social sector also through the provision of contributions (par. 4.7).
In cooperation with the regions there is also the implementation of the already mentioned GOL (Garanzia dell’Occupabilità dei lavoratori - Workers Occupability Guarantee), dedicated for active labour policies that work for inclusion and that are included in MISSION 5 of the PNRR. The program has 5 main directories:
- Work reintegration: for those closest to the labour market: guidance and intermediation services accompanying to work
- Upskilling: for workers further from the market, but still with expendable skills:training interventions mainly of short duration and with a professionalising content.
- Reskilling: for workers very far away from the market and with skills that are not adequate to the current needs: more in-depth professional training, generally characterised by an increase in the levels of qualification / EQF compared to the level of education
- Work and inclusion: in cases of complex needs, i.e. in the presence of obstacles and barriers that go beyond the working dimension: in addition to the previous services, the activation of the network of territorial services (depending on the case, educational, social, social health), similarly to what already happens for the Citizenship Income (and before for the REI)
- Collective relocation: assessment of employment opportunities on the basis of the specific corporate crisis situation, on the professionalism of the workers involved and on the territorial context of reference, in order to identify suitable solutions for all the workers themselves.
To make the system of interventions aimed at promoting social inclusion and the fight against poverty more efficient, some tools to support information and data management within the databases of the Public Administration have recently been innovated, in order to facilitate information exchange and make cooperation at different levels of intervention (national and local) easier.
Delegation Law 33/2017 and later decree-law 147/2017 have provided for the establishment of the already invoked Network of Protection and Social Inclusion (par. 4.0) with the aim of fostering greater territorial homogeneity in the provision of services and defining guidelines for the interventions indicated.
The Network is responsible for the development of the following three plans adopted by the Government and the Ministry:
- The National Social Plan 2021-2023: a programmatic tool for the interventions and services necessary for the progressive definition of the essential levels of social benefits to be guaranteed throughout the country.
- The Action Plan for Poverty and Social Services 2021-2023 : a programmatic tool for the use of the poverty fund resources to finance interventions and social services to combat poverty.
- National Non-Self-ReliancePlan: aimed at programmatically using the resources of the Non-Self-Reliance Fund to "ensure the implementation of the essential levels of welfare benefits to be guaranteed throughout the country with regard to people who are non-self-sufficient".
A further programme instrument should be reported, which refers to cooperation with the Ministry of Education (cf. chapter 6):
Plan against Educational Poverty: an action plan to intervene effectively and systemically in combating educational failure.
In this context, the set of interventions and services defines an area of action characterized by high levels of integration of instruments related to both health care and socio-welfare areas, and by dynamics with significant inter-institutional and inter-organisational importance (par. 4.6)
The Plans, which have a three-year time horizon with annual updates, identify the development of interventions based on the resources of the Funds referred to, with the aim of gradually achieving, within the available resources, the essential levels of welfare benefits to be guaranteed throughout the country. In this context, the Plan identifies national priorities, while, in line with these, the Regional Plans will eventually have to indicate further specific reinforcements to be envisaged in the territories of competence.
It will therefore be the Regional Plans (or various acts of planning) that will regulate the forms of cooperation between the services to achieve the desired results.
With regard to the essential levels of welfare benefits, the Plans identify:
the articulation of the resources of the funds across the different lines of intervention;
information flows and indicators aimed at specifying funded policies and determining any quantitative targets.
The Network is also called upon to draw up appropriate guidelines in the specific fields of intervention of policies relating to the system of interventions and social services. The guidelines are flanked by the Plans and constitute operational tools to guide the practices of territorial services, starting from the sharing of experiences, methods and working tools, in order to ensure greater homogeneity in the provision of services.
As for the "Interventions and Social Services to Combat Poverty", law 26/2019 confirms:
professional social service for taking charge;
internships aimed at social inclusion, people's autonomy and rehabilitation;
home or territorial socio-educational support;
social and welfare home care;
support for parenting and family mediation;
cultural mediation service as well as the social emergency response service.
In order to ensure the implementation of the essential levels of interventions and social services for the fight against poverty, the resources of the Poverty Fund are allocated to the territorial areas of the regions, with the remaining interventions related to the policies of work, training, health and social health, education, housing, as well as other areas possibly involved in the evaluation and design, foreseen by the legislation of the Unitarian Information System of Social Services (SIUS).
Article 24 of decree-law 147/2017 established the Unitary Information System of Social Services (SIUSS) at the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy. SIUSS is called upon to integrate and replace the information system of social services and the cabinet of assistance. Both have been subsequently suppressed. SIUSS is given the following aims: - ensuring a complete understanding of social needs and benefits provided by the integrated system of social interventions and services and all the information necessary for the planning, monitoring and evaluation of social policies; - monitor compliance with essential performance levels; - strengthen checks on unduly perceived benefits; - to have a unitary database that is functional to the planning and integrated design of interventions through integration with health information systems, work and other areas of intervention that are relevant to social policies, as well as with service information systems that are already available to municipalities; - to process data for statistical, research and study purposes.