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How families can claim Italy’s new universal single allowance

Italy has already recorded nearly two million applications for its new universal child benefit. Here's how you can claim the credit for your family.

How families can claim Italy's new universal single allowance
Applications are now open for Italy's new universal child benefit. Photo by Xavier Mouton Photographie on Unsplash

Families in Italy can now request the new single universal child benefit (L’assegno unico e universale) since applications opened on January 1st, 2022.

The new single allowance, approved in November, replaces a range of so-called ‘baby bonuses‘ in a move hoped to simplify the process of claiming financial support for parents.

READ ALSO: Ten things you need to know about giving birth in Italy

Some seven million families in Italy are eligible to claim the new benefit, and 1.75 million requests have already been made, according to data from Italy’s Social Security Institute (INPS).

For those yet to apply, the INPS on February 9th published instructions on making a claim – currently only in Italian.

Based on the official information available, here’s a guide to what the allowance is, who’s eligible, and how to apply.

What is the single universal child benefit?

The new allowance is a monthly means-tested benefit for those who have children, or are about to have a child.

It is payable from the seventh month of pregnancy until the child reaches the age of 18 or in some cases, 21.

The first payments will be made in March 2022. If you apply by June, you’ll receive payments in arrears from January. After this date, you can still apply but won’t receive any backdated payments.

How much child benefit you can claim depends on your household wealth. Photo by Garrett Jackson on Unsplash

It’s also available to parents of children between 18 and 21 years of age who are dependent on the family – but they must prove that the child has undertaken a course of study or training, or has started an apprenticeship or traineeship contract.

No age limit is imposed in the case of a disabled child.

The universal payment is intended to help encourage more people in Italy to start a family as the birth rate slumps again to a new record low.

It comes as part of the country’s wider strategy – the so-called Family Act – which aims to make starting a family in Italy more affordable.

However, with the introduction of this payment, other ‘bonuses’ for parents have been scrapped altogether – such as the one-off payment of €800 for expectant mothers (Bonus Mamma Domani) and the Bonus Bebé, which had a higher minimum payout, available for the first year of the child’s life.

How much are you entitled to?

The amount payable to each family is based on the household’s economic situation, which in Italy is calculated as ‘ISEE’ (Indicatore della Situazione Economica Equivalente, or ‘Equivalent Financial Position Indicator’).

In other words, you are means-tested to find out how much allowance you’ll be entitled to. The calculation takes into account income and 20 percent of assets, such as your house and your car, for instance.

READ ALSO: How Italy just made it easier to access essential paperwork online

To find out what your ISEE is, you need to fill out a declaration form of your income and assets called the DSU (Dichiarazione Sostitutiva Unica). You can do this yourself or ask your accountant (commercialista) for help.

The amount you can claim ranges from a maximum of €175 per month for households with an ISEE of up to €15,000 per year, to a minimum monthly amount of €50 for those with an ISEE of over €40,000.

Photo by Ana Tablas on Unsplash

If you decide not to calculate your ISEE, INPS states that you’ll be entitled to the base rate of €50 monthly for each child.

From the third child onwards, there is an extra €85 per child and an extra €30 if both parents work.

That means typical payments will range from €50 per month if you have one child and have an ISEE over €40,000, or don’t submit one at all, to around €700 per month if you have three children on a minimum ISEE and both parents are in work.

You’ll need to claim again annually for this benefit.

Who is eligible to claim?

Parents or those who have parental responsibility can access this benefit regardless of employment status. That means all categories of employees (both public and private), the self-employed, pensioners, the unemployed and the unemployable are equally eligible.

Grandparents can apply in the case of sole parental responsibility.

To be eligible, you need to either be an Italian or EU citizen, or a family member of an Italian or EU citizen.

You can also apply if you are a citizen of a non-European country and have an Italian or EU long-term residence permit (permesso di soggiorno per soggiornanti di lungo periodo).

READ ALSO: Visas and residency permits: How to move to Italy (and stay here)

You can also claim the allowance if you hold a work permit authorised for a period of more than six months, or if you hold a residence permit for research purposes authorised for more than six months.

If you wish, you can split the benefit between two parents, by entering the two payment details in the application.

If you’re pregnant, you can only apply after the birth, when the child has been assigned a tax code (codice fiscale). With the first monthly allowance, arrears will be paid from the seventh month of pregnancy.

You can still claim the Bonus asilo nido (nursery bonus) concurrently.

How do I claim?

There are a few ways to apply:

  • by accessing the MyINPS site here – then click on ‘Assegno unico e universale per i figli a carico‘ (Single and universal allowance for dependent children). You’ll need your SPID, a Carta di Identità Elettronica (CIE) or a Carta Nazionale dei Servizi (CNS) to log in;
  • by calling 803164 (free of charge from a landline) or 06164164 (from a mobile network – charges will apply);
  • by going to a patronato (a type of office offering legal and bureaucratic advice and assistance), or by asking an accountant (commercialista) for advice.

READ ALSO: How to use your Italian ID card to access official services online

For more information, INPS has created an FAQ – you can read it (in Italian) here.

The Ministry of Economy and Finance has also provided detailed information on the benefit with a breakdown of how much you can claim based on your ISEE bracket and number of children here.

See more of The Local’s guides to dealing with Italian bureaucracy here.

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UK AND ITALY

Can British people in Italy claim the UK’s winter fuel payment?

In the UK, there are various benefits available to help eligible people through the cold winter months – one of which is the winter fuel payment. But can Britons living in Italy really claim this benefit to cover the cost of heating their Italian homes?

Can British people in Italy claim the UK’s winter fuel payment?

Average winter temperatures vary across Italy, but those who move here after only experiencing scorching summers are often surprised to discover just how cold the country can get.

Even the hardiest of arrivals from colder climes will no doubt have to switch on the radiators or fire up the woodburner between November and February – despite the surging costs.

READ ALSO: Not just gas: How the cost of heating has soared in Italy

As the cost of living crisis bites, some UK nationals who reside in Italy may wonder if they could still be eligible for winter fuel financial support from the UK.

What is the UK’s winter fuel payment?

The UK’s winter fuel payment is a tax-free payment to help older people with heating costs during the cold winter months.

Those eligible must have been born before September 26th 1956, according to the UK government’s website.

How much people receive depends on their age and whether anyone else in the household is also eligible, but the amount is usually between £250 and £600.

I’m a UK national living in Italy. Can I claim the winter fuel payment?

Yes, if you meet the following criteria according to the British government’s website:

“If you do not live in the UK, you’re only eligible for the Winter Fuel Payment if:

  • you moved to an eligible country before 1 January 2021
  • you were born before 26 September 1956
  • you have a genuine and sufficient link to the UK – this can include having lived or worked in the UK, and having family in the UK”

Unlike Spain and France, which the British government has deemed to be too warm on average, Italy is on the list of eligible countries along with Austria, Germany, Sweden, and others.

Find out how to claim the fuel payment on the UK government’s website here.

According to the UK government, during winter the average temperature is between 2 and 7 degrees Celsius in the UK.

READ ALSO: At what time of day is electricity cheapest in Italy?

The Italian government divides the country into six ‘climate zones’ which determine when and for how long residents should have their heating switched on each winter.

According to the government’s classification, the coldest parts of the country are the northern provinces of Cuneo, Trento, and Belluno, where no heating restrictions apply.

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