Italy’s citizens’ income: on its way out already?

by Miriam Ronzoni on August 24, 2022

The last-but-one Italian Government, led by the 5 star movement’s leader Giuseppe Conte, introduced the reddito di cittadinanza (“citizens’ income”), the first form of universal social welfare scheme that Italy has ever had. In spite of its name, it is not a universal basic income of sorts, but a means-tested guaranteed minimum income which, when relevant/appropriate, is supposed to be conditional on willingness to retrain and accept proposed job offers. This model of welfare provision is, by European standards, nothing new or particularly impressive; yet the Italian welfare state never had a comprehensive system of this kind in place – the status quo before the reddito di cittadinanza was highly piece meal and unequal, with unemployment benefits restricted to certain categories; disability checks very intricately regulated; and no entitlements whatsoever based on sheer need alone.

Now, I am not exactly new to prejudices against welfare recipients, not only by the wealthy, but especially by those who are only ever so slightly better off – I live in the UK. Yet, in a country where the family represents, de facto, the welfare state for many people, and where many families are increasingly incapable of covering that role, I wasn’t prepared for just the level of hatred against the policy which, however anecdotally, I encountered over several conversations this Summer. [click to continue…]