In March 2021, the Minister of Labor Andrea Orlando set up a scientific committee for the assessment of citizenship income. The sociologist Chiara Saraceno was chosen to lead the organism, a life spent studying measures to combat poverty. Eight months later the committee presented its conclusions to the government: the unanimous opinion of the experts was that the DRC is an essential tool, although there are some critical issues to be corrected. Saraceno and his colleagues made ten proposals for improvement: none of these however – as the professor complains when speaking with TPI – was accepted: «We were even asked to produce a draft of the law: we did it even though we went beyond our mandate. But then none of our observations were followed up at the government table ”.
“An income of last resort for those who are unable to meet their basic needs is necessary,” observes Saraceno: “During the pandemic, but also with what is happening today, without the DRC poverty would have exploded.” However, the subsidy, as it is designed, shows some inequities. A first problem, explains the professor, is that “large families with minor children are disadvantaged in the access criteria”.
The amount of the basic allowance – 500 euros per month – is in fact multiplied by a coefficient that increases according to the number of members: 0.4 for each additional adult member and 0.2 for each minor, up to a maximum of 2 , 1. This results in a large family with young children being penalized compared to a smaller family in which they are all adults. “Our proposal – remembers Saraceno – was to equate minors to adults and increase the maximum coefficient”. “Another critical issue that we have noticed – he continues – concerns the requirement of residence in Italy for at least ten years: too stringent, but above all unconstitutional, as noted by the Council”.
Third problem: «To be entitled to the subsidy, the additional criteria to the ISEE must exist all three at the same time: it is necessary to fall within a certain threshold of income, savings and real estate property. This produces absurdities: for example, those who are almost devoid of savings but exceed the income threshold by one euro do not receive anything; those who have the maximum savings within the threshold and no income receive the check in full. According to our committee, an excess part of savings should be considered as expendable income ». Then there is the age-old question of active employment policies: «The accompanying measures – Saraceno notes – did not work. The employment centers are not equipped: both staff and professional skills are lacking. Furthermore, the navigators were hired by Anpal, but then they had to cooperate with the centers managed by the Regions. Do you think that there is not even a centralized database: the two channels do not communicate ».
If active policies have proved to be fundamental, in short, “the fault lies not with the beneficiaries of the income, as is often suggested in the public debate”. The fact – concludes Saraceno – is that «poverty has always been a negative narrative in Italy. Just think of the anything but positive meaning commonly given to the term “welfare”. Yet sooner or later everyone in life needs to be assisted… ».
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