The half-a-million-euro bill represents five per cent of the turnover at Asef, the city’s public funeral service which administers more than a third of burials, Il Secolo XIX reported on Wednesday.
The deficit has increased sharply in recent years: in 2002, Asef funerals were paid for in full, while problems first arose in 2007, the year the global financial crisis hit, when €50,000 was outstanding.
“The increase in unpaid bills reflects the difficulties families are facing, ” Franco Rossetti, Asef manager, was quoted in Il Secolo XIX as saying.
Despite Italy’s economy showing signs of improvement, with the country’s budget deficit falling slightly in 2013 compared to the previous year, many Italians are still struggling.
Italy’s unemployment rate hit a high of 13 percent in February, while figures released in September showed absolute poverty had hit around eight perfect of the population.
The economic downturn has forced some Italians to go without the essentials, with the number of people struggling to afford medicines almost doubling between 2006 and 2013.