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Poverty in ItalyFeatures and Drivers in a European Perspective$
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Chiara Saraceno, David Benassi, and Enrica Morlicchio

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781447352211

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447352211.001.0001

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A late and uncertain comer in developing anti-poverty policies

A late and uncertain comer in developing anti-poverty policies

(p.113) 7 A late and uncertain comer in developing anti-poverty policies
Poverty in Italy

Chiara Saraceno

David Benassi

Enrica Morlicchio

Policy Press

This chapter analyses the Italian system of social protection (including family allowances) with particular regard to its scarce efficacy in supporting the poor and to the fragmentation that often has counter-distributive effects. The fragmentation does not concern only the policy measures, but also their territorial distribution, across regions and municipalities. Particularly, although not only, in the case of poverty, until very recently there was no national policy, except for the poor old and the disabled. The responsibility for the poor (as for social services) was at the regional and municipal level, with no common framework. This long-standing situation was further strengthened by a constitutional reform in 2011. Within this institutional context, the introduction of a national minimum income provision was long opposed by various forces, notwithstanding some temporary experiments. The situation changed first at the civil society then at the policy level with the onset of the crisis, culminating with the introduction of the beginning of a minimum income scheme in 2016, followed by a reform, due to a change in the government coalition, in 2018. The fragile and changing government alliances that characterize the Italian political scene at present, together with the persistent view of the poor as “lazy” or “cheaters”, leave open the possibility that other changes may occur.

Keywords:   Social policies, Family allowances, Regional autonomy, Fragmentation, Social actors, Governance, Political parties, Minimum income schemes, Deserving poor, Undeserving poor

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