4.6 Access to quality services
A range of collective services in the areas of housing, social services, health and financial services play a crucial role in ensuring the full social integration of young Italians. Some of these services focus specifically on youth needs, such as university accommodation services. In other cases, youth needs are addressed in the context of universal services targeting the whole Italian population, as in the case of health services. The most significant examples are presented below.
On the issue of housing, the youth population is intercepted mainly through measures supporting young people in purchasing their first house and through residential services for students and non-students.
Concerning the purchasing of the first house, young people under the age of 35, who have an atypical working relationship and young couples with or without children are among the beneficiaries of the First Home Mortgage Guarantee Fund (par. 4.4).
With regard to university residences, young Italians have the opportunity to obtain a room at a university residence by participating in calls issued regularly by the universities. Universities define rankings based on:
- economic criteria with particular reference to the Equivalent Economic Situation Indicator (ISEE) of the student household;
- academic criteria measured according to the number of university credits (CFU) accumulated by the student during the academic year.
To ensure the quality of the services of university residences, the State has intervened through:
- Co-financing housing and residences for university students. The last call was issued with D.M. 937/2016.
- Definition of guidelines for the minimum dimensional and quality standards of accommodations and for the technical and economic parameters concerning the construction of university residences (D.M. 936/2016).
Rent bonus for Youth: A state contribution for the under 31s who live in rented accommodation, distributed in the form of a discount on taxes. People can use it directly in their tax return, even if they live in a shared accomodation with other tenants.
The Italian social protection system is divided into the areas of pensions, care and health and is governed by the action of different levels of government according to the powers that the law assigns to the State, the Regions and municipalities (par. 4.2).
Some services offered by the social protection system are of immediate relevance to young people, such as in the case of social benefits relating to:
- Free or semi-free supply of textbooks;
- Scholarships, also for university students;
- Home or residential social and health services (for vulnerable young people);
- Exemptions and reductions in charges for public services (e.g. transport, museums) (chapter 8);
Other services focus on households and respond to the needs of the youth population by supporting families with dependent children. The following forms of support are significant examples:
- Nursery and other social and educational childcare services (Integrated System 0-6);
- School canteens;
- Birth allowances, bonuses, vouchers and other economic interventions for families;
- Large household allowances (with at least three minor children);
- National maternity allowances
From a financial point of view, a recent analysis carried out by ISTAT shows that spending on services for children and families with children represents the largest share of the social expenditure of Italian municipalities (about 2.8 billion euros, or 38.1% of total expenditure). A significant proportion of these resources (around 40%) is dedicated to nurseries and educational services for children.
Finally, a number of services should be recalled which, although not specifically designed for young people, can indirectly intercept the needs of the youth population. These include, for example:
- Citizenship income (soon to be substituted by the Inclusion Allowance - Assegno di Inclusione par. 4.4);
- Social prices for the distribution and sale of electricity (energy bonus);
- Social prices for phone fee (phone bonus).
- The already mentioned Universal check for dependent children (par. 4.4).
- Superbonus 110%: the tax relief governed by Article 119 of Law Decree no. 34/2020 (Relaunch decree), which consists of a 110% deduction of the expenses incurred starting from 1 July 2020 for the implementation of specific interventions aimed at improving energy efficiency and static consolidation or the reduction of the seismic risk of buildings. The facilitated interventions also include the installation of photovoltaic systems and infrastructures for charging electric vehicles in buildings.
The right to social benefits, particularly in the facilitated form, and/or to public services, is subject to the compliance of personal and economic parameters, verified by the different service providers. Since 1998, the measurement of the economic condition of an individual wishing to benefit from social benefits has been assessed through the Equivalent Economic Situation Indicator (ISEE).
Since 1979, Italy has had a system of facilities and services that aim to ensure that all citizens have universal access to health services. The National Health System (SSN) develops around the principles of a) centrality of the person, b) public responsibility for the protection of the right to health and c) enhancement of social and health integration. Like all Italian citizens, young people benefit from universal access to social and health services offered by the NHS (Chapter 7).
Among the health benefits and social interventions provided by the NHS, some forms of care particularly affect young people who are confronted with specific risks and vulnerabilities. These includes:
- Addictions – Ser.Ds. are public services for pathological addictions developed within the NHS. These services deal with preventing and treating addictions to smoking, alcohol, psychoactive substances and gambling. In collaboration and synergy with therapeutic communities, municipalities and local associations, Ser.D. also works to promote the rehabilitation and the social and work reintegration of people with addictions. Specific awareness and prevention campaigns are dedicated to young people;
- Health clinics: are health facilities providing care and guidance on sexual, reproductive and psycho-relational health. These services target young couples and young people by offering information and help on contraception, abortion, prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and motherhood.
- Disability: The NHS provides a range of integrated social and health services for people with disabilities. These are guaranteed in collaboration with local authorities and the third sector. The integration of health, social and educational services also allows for the full integration of students into the national school system.Students with disabilities are followed by a Specialist Support Teacher who, in agreement with NHS doctors, identifies an Individualised Education Plan (PEI) for them to be carried out during the school year. This integrated path accompanies students with disabilities throughout their educational path.
This category includes a series of funding instruments specifically dedicated to young people such as the First Home Mortgage Guarantee Fund and the Youth Credit Fund (par. 4.4).
In 2016, the Culture Bonus was introduced. The Bonus consists of an electronic card worth 500 euros awarded to all young people residing in Italy or holding a residence permit at the age of 18. The Culture Bonus can be used to buy books, visit exhibitions and museums, attend concerts, theatre and film performances and other cultural events.
Quality assessment systems differ for each of these specific services because institutional bodies, local actors and social private entities involved in their provision are different. However, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies are the main players in the field.
At the Ministry of Health, the Higher Health Council was set up, a technical-scientific advisory body that expresses its opinion on the adoption of regulatory or administrative measures at the request of the Ministry or the relevant legal authorities. In addition, an independent performance assessment body (OIV) was established at the Ministry of Health in 2018 to monitor the overall operation of the system.
With regard to the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, the main systems for quality assurances are: