Italy pledges €800m to fight poverty in 2014

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The Italian government will spend €800m on fighting poverty in 2014. Photo: TheWolf/Flickr
14:20 CET+01:00
Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta said on Friday that the coalition government will spend €800 million on fighting poverty next year as more Italians struggle to make ends meet.

A report by Eurostat in early December revealed that 29.9 percent of Italians were suffering, or risked suffering, poverty in 2012, a figure surpassed in the Eurozone only by Greece.

Letta said on Friday that the government had raised an extra €300 million in addition to the €500 million already allocated to fight poverty.

Senators on Monday gave their final approval to the 2014 budget, which is intended to tackle an enduring social crisis even after the formal end of the country's longest post-war recession.

It includes the creation of a fund with proceeds from bureaucratic cuts to be used to lower income tax, as well as measures to encourage hiring of workers, higher taxes on large pensions and the introduction of a new benefits scheme for the unemployed.

Italy's economy, the third-biggest in the eurozone, ended two years of contraction in the third quarter with zero-percent growth but unemployment is still at record-high levels and thousands of businesses have been forced to shut down in the crisis.

Francesco Marsico, the vice president for the Italian branch of Caritas, recently told The Local that 12 percent more people called on the charity for food, clothes, medicine and other basic necessities this year compared to 2012.

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READ MORE HERE: Italy's crisis leaves middle class struggling

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