ITALY: Citizens React As Meloni’S Government Put An End To Benefits For Thousands Of Families

Giorgia Meloni’s right-wing government is putting an end to benefits for thousands of families and individuals deemed ‘fit to work’.

An estimated 169,000 families across Italy received an SMS in late July notifying them that the benefits they had enjoyed for the past four years would abruptly be cut off the following month.

The welfare benefits payment programme was introduced in 2019 by the government led by Giuseppe Conte, a member of the Five Star Movement (M5S) party, and is now being dismantled by the far-right government of Giorgia Meloni.

The benefits, which will be cut off from any families that do not include a disabled person, a minor, or an individual over the age of 65, are part of Italy’ controversial “reddito di cittadinanza” (literally “citizens’ income”), a monthly allowance for families and individuals with low income and the unemployed.

The citizens’ income was one of the main promises made by the Five Star Movement before coming into power in 2019, despite the concept being deeply controversial in the country and harshly opposed by the right.

Meloni announced her decision to tighten the social welfare system as soon as she came into power as Italy’s new prime minister last year, declaring that it will be completely abolished by 1 January 2024 for the unemployed between the age of 18 and 59 deemed fit to work.

Former prime minister Conte, who steered Italy through the Covid crisis, criticised Meloni’s decision saying she was “playing with people’s lives,” and that those in their 50s and 60s currently relying on the citizens’ income will have a hard time retraining and finding new jobs.

The deluge of SMS messages announcing to families that they will no longer receive benefits sparked fierce protests in the southern city of Naples and its province, which is home to the highest number of recipients. 

The offices of the country’s National Institute for Social Security (INPS) in the region reported receiving hundreds of calls from people asking for a better explanation than the one contained in the SMS

Source: Euro news

Photo credit: Britannica

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