ITALY: Basic Income Pilot Launched in Italian Coastal City

Filippo Nogarin, the mayor of the Italian coastal city of Livorno who launched an initiative to provide a guaranteed basic income to the city’s 100 poorest families in June 2016, is poised to extend the program in the beginning of 2017. A member of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S), Nogarin was elected in 2014.

Nogarin’s first basic income pilot, which began in June 2016 and lasted six months, provided each of the 100 families with $537 (roughly €517) per month. In January 2017, this pilot will be expanded to another 100 families. While the intervention is designed to provide meaningful support to each family, it will reach only a fraction of Livorno’s population: the coastal city boasts over 150,000 residents.

Nogarin, like many proponents of basic income policies, sees the initiative as a fundamental way to help those in poverty without the patriarchal overtones of traditional welfare programs. “I’ve never met the recipients, and this is a hugely important point,” he said, “I don’t want them to see me as a patriarchal figure handing out charity. This is the real power of this scheme: it’s the community helping the community.”

However, critics in Livorno, such as local trade union activists, are wary of the scheme: some believe the initiative to be misguided, while others see it as misleading. Though basic income provides cash support for the targeted families, it does not offer employment. Furthermore, the initiative’s focus on a small subset of the Livorno population has been criticized as too narrow for an anti-poverty program.

Other Italian municipalities led by M5S may follow Livorno’s lead in testing a cash transfer program. Ragusa and Naples are now considering basic income trials as well, and interest in such programs has spiked.

At the national level, M5S has proposed what it calls a “citizen’s income,” though some have pointed out that this terminology could be construed as deceptive, since the party’s proposal resembles a traditional unemployment benefit more than a basic income guarantee.

 

More information at:

Jamie Mackay, “Money for Nothing,” VICE News, December 6, 2016.

Sabrina Del Pico, “Italy: 5 Star Movement and the confusing proposal of a citizen’s income,” Basic Income News, March 14, 2013.

About Andrew Kaplan

Andrew Kaplan has written 1 articles.

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5 comments

  • ugo

    A laudable initiative, although this is not a basic income for everyone, but a classic means-tested minimum income guarantee for the poor. As such you may consider revisiting the title and part of the text that may be mislesding and mix the concepts.

    • Kate McFarland Kate McFarland

      Thanks for the comments. I agree that it’s important not to confuse these concepts. A policy in which cash transfers are distributed only to poor households is not a basic income. However, the article/title does call the initiative a mere “pilot” — not a policy — and, for better or worse, it is becoming conventional to use “basic income pilot” to refer to trials in which benefits are neither universal nor distributed to a random sample from the entire population. Finland’s newly launched “basic income pilot” — in which participated is limited to unemployed working-age adults — is perhaps the paradigm case, and we’ve consented to following the Finnish Government in describing it in these terms. But, when talking about pilots, this usage makes some sense: in most cases, a trial of basic income cannot replicate every feature of a true basic income, and so must test only some of its distinctive attributes (e.g. unconditionality).

      Now, if you mean that there’s a clawback on the $537 amount mentioned in the article, entailing that not even everyone in the sample of poor households gets the full $537, then that is definitely something also worth pointing out. This is not suggested by the Vice article, but perhaps you have additional sources. If you have more information about this pilot (especially primary sources), please do submit them here so that we can write a more precise update: http://basicincome.org/news/suggest-news-item/.

  • Brendan Jones

    The M5S has made a national-level proposal to introduce a basic guaranteed income of €780 a month but it is reduced as income rises, leaving the programme with all of the disincentives of existing social welfare programmes (benefits reduced as income rises, requirements to participate in active labour policy mechanisms, the costs of verifying compliance and general administration and so on) and, especially in a country like Italy, all of the attendant bureaucratic requirements and complications that create an incentive to cheat in order to qualify. (the bill, submitted in 2013, can be found, in Italian, at http://www.senato.it/service/PDF/PDFServer/DF/308596.pdf).
    The Livorno pilot programme does not seem to have a clawback provision, judging from the call for applications (which you can access, in Italian, at http://www.quilivorno.it/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/reddito-cittadinanza-bando.pdf) but it is conditional on household income (not to exceed €6530.94), non-ownership of an automobile with power of more than 107 HP, being unemployed at the time the application is submitted and an obligation to accept job offers. Beneficiaries lose eligibility if their income rises over the ceiling.

    • Kate McFarland Kate McFarland

      This is wonderful. Thanks, Brendan.

      We are currently limited in our coverage of the Italian scene due to limitations in human resources. If you come across any additional information or updates, please do submit them the “Suggest a News Item” form.

  • It is not a basic income, it is not minimum guaranteed income, is very low income for the most poorest, means tested and it more seems as a workfare.
    There’s 2 proposal of law, one of M5S and another one is a popular initiative for guaranteed income. These 2 proposal are stopped in Senate from 2013!
    Also BIN Italia (basic income network Italy) was called to speak on the senate, last one the 18 January 2017.
    Please don’t give wrong news..

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