Meloni: anyone who refuses a reasonable job loses unemployment benefits

The "Reddito di cittadinanza", Italy's most important social plan, could be reformed by a proposal from the new government.

Giorgia Meloni and a campaign proposal: to prevent subsidies from being "for life". (Archive)

Social plans and unemployment benefits are a factor of permanent debate in all democracies of the world. While a partisan faction increases and perpetuates them, seeking to consolidate electoral majorities, the working majorities increase their indignation. Until one day, the ballot boxes show results that go against the political corporation's wishes, and they choose something different to channel their anger, often justified. This is how Giorgia Meloni became Prime Minister of Italy. Now, already in office, she is obsessed with fulfilling one of her campaign promises: to reform the Reddito di cittadinanza so that the beneficiaries of the most traditional unemployment benefit do not abuse the treasury and taxpayers.

The government's proposal is as simple as it is reasonable, but due to the current political discussion and debates, it is also controversial. According to the initiative, the person who is collecting the subsidy and receives a "reasonable" job offer, in case of refusing the job will automatically lose the government income. "For those who can work, the solution cannot be the Citizenship Income," Meloni said in his last speech in the Italian Parliament.

The ruling party made it clear that it does not seek to "abolish" the subsidy, as opposition leaders claimed. However, they want the renewal process to be for shorter periods and the amount to be received to be reduced as time goes by and the person remains unemployed. The automatic cancellation would be only in the case of the beneficiary's rejection of a formal labor proposal. The spokesman for the initiative is the Undersecretary of Labor, Claudio Durigon. According to the official, "the subsidy cannot be for life".

Among the reforms that the government is promoting, the issue of decentralization of the subsidy stands out. Durigon pointed out that the system "should not be managed centrally". For the person in charge of the employment area, the municipalities "know better the real situations of poverty" throughout the country.

"Improve subsidies for those who cannot work."

As indicated by Italian government sources, with the money saved through these new controls and restrictions on the unemployment social allowance scheme, they hope to improve other schemes for people in need.  The authorities hope to "reinforce subsidies" to "guarantee a decent subsidy to those who cannot work, or even improve them, in cases such as the disabled".

This piece was originally published in Spanish in the Panam Post.

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