Financial help: Italy plans new ‘universal single allowance’ for families from July

The Italian government is set to announce new measures to help families on Friday in a new decree.

Families will be able to access child benefit in the form of a universal allowance from July 1st, as indicated by Prime Minister Mario Draghi last month, according to newspaper La Repubblica.

The short-term plans are intended to cover groups of families that have so far been excluded from government family help, such as the disabled, unemployed and the self-employed.

The move is a temporary ‘bridge allowance’ for six months, after which it will become permanent, in a bid to help families and reverse the trend of falling birth rates.

READ ALSO: Fast trains and extended building bonus: How Italy’s EU recovery plan could affect you

Described as “era-changing” by the Italian Prime Minister and also praised by the pope, the universal single allowance forms part of the country’s wider strategy, its so-called Family Act.

The plans are to be presented to the Council of Ministers today in the form of a decree law and are expected to outline how much families will receive in state funds per child.

A minimum of €30 to a maximum of €217.80 will be made available per month for each child. This is the plan for the next few months, valid from July to December 2021 for those who don’t already receive family allowances.

Families eligible are those with an ISEE – the social and economic indicator of household income – of up to €50,000. How much a family can claim is also linked to the amount of children they have.


The maximum monthly amount is €167.50 for the first and second child, which increases by 30% from the third child onwards.

Therefore, a family with two children can claim a maximum of €335 and it would rise to €653 for three children.

The figure decreases as the ISEE increases, going down to zero for a family with an ISEE of over €50,000.

In addition, an extra €50 will be provided for each disabled child.

The support will be on hand for dependent children up to the age of 21 and, from the age of 18, could be directly credited to the child if they are at university, enrolled in a vocational course, have a low-income job, are a trainee or doing community service.

Photo: Mario Laporta/AFP

It’s expected €3 billion will be made to households overall, with over half of these funds going to groups currently ineligible to claim for family support. That also extends to employees who may be excluded due to overall family income.

For households who can currently access government family benefits, they too will receive a boost with an extra €37.50 per child up to two children and an extra €70 per child for those with three or more children.

For now, these funds will co-exist with other family bonuses, such as the baby bonuses.

Draghi stated during a speech at a conference in May that help is also coming in the form of “the construction of nurseries and kindergartens, the extension of full-time education and the strengthening of school infrastructure”.

“To parliament, I listed the measures for young people, women and families, present in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan,” he added.

Measures of around €21 billion are pledged in total, including incentives for companies “to hire more women and young people”.

Italy has long been experiencing a decline in birth rates, with just 404,000 children born in 2020, according to the national statistics body ISTAT.

READ ALSO: The real reasons young Italians aren’t having kids

That’s the lowest number since the unification of Italy and marks an almost 30 per cent drop compared to ten years ago.

Italy has long counted among one of the lowest birth rates in Europe, and the situation has only been made worse by the coronavirus crisis.

It’s expected the trend will continue this year, as Istat expects a further drop to 384,000-393,000 for 2021— largely due to an expected post-Covid baby bust across the world.

The universal single allowance can be accessed by anyone who pays taxes in Italy and has been resident in the country for at least two years.

Italian and EU citizens and holders of residence permits for work or research purposes for at least six months are eligible.

For those wishing to apply, Italy’s social security and welfare system, INPS, is expected to publish a form online by 30th June.

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Second Italian minister takes anti-mafia reporter Saviano to court

Just weeks after going on trial in a case brought by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Italian investigative journalist Roberto Saviano was back in court on Wednesday facing allegations of defamation lodged by Meloni's deputy, Matteo Salvini.

Second Italian minister takes anti-mafia reporter Saviano to court

Deputy Prime Minister Salvini, whose far-right League party is a key member of Meloni’s coalition, is suing the journalist for calling him the “minister of the criminal underworld” in a social media post in 2018.

In November, Saviano went on trial in a case brought by Meloni for calling her a “bastard” in 2020 over her attitude towards vulnerable migrants.

READ ALSO: Press freedom fears as Italian PM Meloni takes Saviano to trial

Meloni’s far-right Brothers of Italy party was in opposition at the time, but won September elections on a promise to curb mass migration.

Saviano, known for his international mafia bestseller “Gomorrah”, regularly clashes with Italy’s far-right and says the trials are an attempt to intimidate him.

He faces up to three years in prison if convicted in either trial.

“I think it is the only case in Western democracies where the executive asks the judiciary to lay down the boundaries within which it is possible to criticise it,” Saviano said in a declaration in court on Wednesday.

He said he was “blatantly the victim of intimidation by lawsuit”, on trial “for making my opinion, my thoughts, public”.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about press freedom in Italy

Press freedom watchdogs and supporters of Saviano have called for the suits to be scrapped. Meloni refused in November, despite criticism that her position of power makes it an unfair trial.

Armed guard

Saviano has lived under police protection since revealing the secrets of the Naples mafia in 2006.

But when Salvini was appointed interior minister in a previous government in June 2018, he suggested he might scrap Saviano’s armed guard.

The writer reacted on Facebook, saying Salvini “can be defined ‘the minister of the criminal underworld’,” an expression he said was coined by anti-fascist politician Gaetano Salvemini to describe a political system which exploited voters in Italy’s poorer South.

READ ALSO: Anti-mafia author Saviano won’t be ‘intimidated’ by Salvini

He accused Salvini of having profited from votes in Calabria to get elected senator, while failing to denounce the region’s powerful ‘Ndrangheta mafia and focusing instead on seasonal migrants.

Salvini’s team are expected to reject any claim he is soft on the mafia.

Saviano’s lawyer said he will call as a witness the current interior minister Matteo Piantedosi, who at the time was in charge of evaluating the journalist’s police protection.

The next hearing was set for June 1st.

Watchdogs have warned of the widespread use in Italy of SLAPPS, lawsuits aimed at silencing journalists or whistleblowers.

Defamation through the media can be punished in Italy with prison sentences from six months to three years, but the country’s highest court has urged lawmakers to rewrite the law, saying jail time for such cases was unconstitutional.

Saviano is also being sued by Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano in a civil defamation case brought in 2020, before Sangiuliano joined the cabinet.

A ruling in that case could come in the autumn. If he loses that case Saviano may have to pay up to 50,000 euros in compensation, his lawyer told AFP.

Italy ranked 58th in the 2022 world press freedom index published by Reporters Without Borders, one of the lowest positions in western Europe.