What is Italy's new 'Citizens' Income' scheme? | Euronews Answers

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By Luke Hurst  & Reuters
Minister of Labor Luigi Di Maio and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini
Minister of Labor Luigi Di Maio and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini   -  Copyright  REUTERS

Italy has launched a citizens' income scheme, designed to alleviate poverty and address unemployment.

It was one of the key election promises from the anti-establishment Five Star movement, which has governed the country along with The League since the 2018 election.

The government says those who take part will be signing an employment pact or a social inclusion pact, with recipients expected to retrain and get back into the work force.

Filippo Taddei, Associate Professor of International Economics at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University, told Euronews one problem is the lack of infrastructure to deliver the retraining element of the scheme.

Overall the citizens' income scheme is set to cost the government around €7-8 billion per year.

Why has Italy introduced the scheme?

The government says it wants to address poverty and unemployment, and to better match job demand and supply.

Italy has one of the highest unemployment rates in the EU, at 10.5% as of January 2019, according to Eurostat.

The government has vowed to tackle poverty, which had risen to the highest levels seen for more than 10 years at the time of the 2018 election.

Who is eligible and how much will they receive?

To qualify, you must be an Italian or EU citizen, or have lived in the country for at least 10 years.

You must also have a household income of under €9,360 per year, savings under €6,000, and no second property costing more than €30,000.

A single person with no income or minimal savings can receive a maximum of €9,360 per year, or €780 euros per month, with €280 to be used for rent. This is adjusted up for families with children.

Anyone earning less than €780 euros per month are eligible to have this topped up.

Have similar schemes worked elsewhere?

Another European country which tried a citizens' income is Finland - but the Scandinavian nation scrapped it after two years, with the final payments being made in January 2019.

The trial saw 2,000 unemployed Finns, chosen at random, receive €560 a month regardless of whether they found work in that time or not.

Initial results suggested a rise in well-being, but no major increase in the unemployed looking for work.