Giorgia Meloni Boosts Social Benefits On May Day

The far-right government has decided to remove aid benefiting millions of poor people and replace it with a check with a more limited scope. The opposition and the unions denounce a “provocation”.

Everyone has their own conception of May Day. The far-right Italian government chose the day of workers’ rights to abolish, during an exceptional council of ministers this Monday, May 1, the “citizenship income”, an aid benefiting millions of poor people. It is replaced by an “inclusion check” with a more limited scope: a decision described as “provocation” by the opposition and the unions. The ultra-conservative executive led by Giorgia Meloni also voted to ease hiring on a fixed-term contract and exemption from employer contributions for one year for companies recruiting a recipient of the “inclusion check” on a permanent contract. or as an apprentice.

While the “citizenship income” was intended for anyone with very modest incomes – including young people – the “inclusion check” will be reserved for families made up of people with disabilities, minors or over 60 years. For its defenders, the “citizenship income” is a proven social shock absorber in the southern regions hit by precariousness, while for the government it is expensive (8 billion euros in 2022) and maintains its beneficiaries. out of working life. Giorgia Meloni’s services have not published the final text but its main lines have leaked in the press and the substitution of one aid for another must be effective on January 1, 2024.

One Million People Lifted Out of Poverty

The stated objective is to stimulate employment and encourage young people to find work in the third largest economy in the euro zone, where the unemployment rate for 15-24 year olds (22.4% in February) is almost three times higher than the national average (8%). “We are reforming the citizenship income to make the difference between those who are able to work and those who are not”, justified Giorgia Meloni. The “inclusion check” will be capped at 500 euros per month (630 euros for households with people over 67 or with a serious disability), to which will be added 280 euros for households who do not own their accommodation. . Lasting eighteen months, it may be renewed for one year after a one-month absence.

The government has also announced the establishment of a professional “access to activity instrument”: for people who are fit for work, participation in training or “projects useful to the community” becomes compulsory. from September, subject to compensation of a maximum of 350 euros per month for one year. The cost for the State is estimated at 2.1 billion euros in 2024.

According to the Italian Institute of Statistics (Istat), the “citizenship income” introduced in 2019 by the Five Star government has lifted one million people out of poverty even though around half of poor people do not receive it, either because they are not eligible (less than 10 years of residence in the territory), or because they have not requested it. In 2022, it benefited 1.6 million households representing nearly four million people, mainly in the south of the country, for an average allocation of 550 euros, according to the social security body INPS.

“Desacralizing May Day”

Opposition and unions have sharply criticized the government for having convened a council of ministers on these subjects precisely on May 1, “a provocation”, according to the former president of the Chamber of Deputies Roberto Fico. “A serious government does not meet on May 1 to condemn young people to precariousness for life, annihilating their dream of having a home and children. It is meeting to introduce a legal minimum wage”, for his part condemned the former Prime Minister Five Stars Giuseppe Conte.

For the newspaper La Repubblica, by “breaking with the secular calendar of the left, Giorgia Meloni wanted to demystify, desacralize May Day” and “challenging the unions’ social hegemony over the world of work”. Giorgia Meloni defended in a press release “on the contrary a beautiful signal and a privilege to honor the workers on this festive day and to provide the answers they expect”.

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