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A new Italian universal basic income, not so universal after all

The Italian government has adopted a new universal basic income for the poor and jobseekers. The measure addresses people with a household income below €9,360 per year who sign a form declaring themselves immediately available for work. But for migrants in Italy, only those with ten years of legal residence in Italy will be eligible for the new benefit.

Initially, the measure was only intended for Italian citizens, as the Deputy Premier and Labour and Industry Minister Luigi Di Maio declared at beginning of January. This was later changed so that migrants with ten years of legal residence in Italy would also be eligible. However, the residence requirement will likely be complex to implement and present some difficulties for eligible migrants in exercising their rights. For example, they may have difficulty in certifying the number of years of residence. In addition, it is worth mentioning that ten years of residence is the period required for naturalisation.

Since its announcement, the policy has received criticism, including that concerning the number and categories of beneficiaries. The new measure has replaced the previous inclusion measure, the REI (Reddito di Inclusione), and there are worries that not all of the REI recipients would be covered under the new measure. According to the INPS (National Social Insurance Agency), 8% of REI’s beneficiaries will not be eligible, and immigrants are among the groups that will be most disadvantaged by the new policy.

According to an analysis published in the independent newspaper La Voce, the Parliamentary Budget Office estimates that the ten-year residence restriction will lead to a reduction in the number of foreign beneficiaries in the North of Italy that is five times higher than in the South. According to research, 92,000 migrants would have received the benefit if there was no such requirement.

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