World news

In Italy, the end of the citizenship income worries the poorest

It’s the last day of November and the stalls of the Nonna Roma association’s solidarity store are almost empty. This morning, Sharon came to get pasta, coffee, canned tuna and some hygiene products. A stay-at-home mother, the 36-year-old left the ice cream shop, where she worked for more than ten years, to raise her three children. For eighteen months, she has been receiving the citizenship income, €630 per month, which allows her to barely pay for groceries, school expenses and her bills.

“We survive thanks to this income”

Six months ago his companion lost his job. In proceedings against his former employer, he does not yet receive unemployment. For now, we survive on this income, if they take it away from us, we will really have nothing left », she confides. Following the pandemic and with the high inflation linked to the war in Ukraine, Italy is facing an unprecedented social crisis. Like Sharon, more and more Italians are forced to turn to associations.

Created in 2017, Nonna Roma distributes meals and food baskets to nearly 3,000 households in the capital and has seen the situation deteriorate. “Since September, on the one hand we have had more requests and on the other, donations have decreased”, says Elisa Ragogna, member of the association. The prices have gone up so much that the food bank can no longer provide us with basic necessities. This month the association bought €1,000 worth of pasta and lentils because we didn’t have enoughz’, continues the young woman. She fears that the situation will worsen with the abolition of citizenship income.

An average of €550 per household

Set up by the Conte government in 2019, this allowance – more or less the equivalent of the RSA in France – was to allow the most precarious to have a safety net to live on. In 2022, 1.6 million families, i.e. 3.6 million people, received the allowance, for an average amount of €550 per household. Its detractors consider the device ineffective and too expensivex and accuse him of favoring assistantship and undeclared work.

Council President Giorgia Meloni kept her campaign promise by announcing her removal from the 1er January 2024. For those who say “occupiable”that is to say of working age, without minors at home or retired or disabled dependents, the income will be limited to eight months instead of eighteen months renewable, suspended at the first refusal of employment from 2023. For people “unoccupied”, another allowance will be introduced from 2024. For the far-right leader, this is “transform assistance into work”in particular by investing in training.

It is a measure ideological” who translates “a lack of knowledge of the labor market”, says Domenico De Masi, professor of sociology of work at the University of La Sapienza in Rome. “Talking about training when there are no jobs is absurd, he confides. This ignores the fact that among the “occupiable” many are not in a condition to work. »

An opinion shared by Giuliano Granato, spokesman for the left-wing Power to the People party. The problem is that there is no work or that the salaries are too low to make it possible to live. »

No minimum wage in Italy

Italy is one of the few countries in the European Union that does not have a minimum wage. “Hundreds of thousands of people will fall back into poverty. That will make the labor market even more precarious by forcing people to accept work at any price”, denounces Giuliano Granato.

For Giuseppe di Marzo, national coordinator of a network of more than 700 associations fighting against poverty, inequality and social exclusion, the citizenship income was also an instrument in the fight against the mafia. “We know that criminal organizations set up shop where the state fails. By removing the citizenship income, young people are exposed to the mafia. »


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