In their 21st report, Catholic charity Caritas says poverty in 2021 was at an all-time high. They made the announcement on the UN’s International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on Monday.
Italian poverty continued to be at an all-time high in 2021, confirming its peaks attained in 2020 when the COVID pandemic began. Catholic charity Caritas said so in its XXI report on poverty and social exclusion.
There were 1.96 million families in absolute poverty in 2021. This amounts to 5,571,000 people or 9.4% of Italy’s resident population, the report said.
Incidence is still higher in the poorer south of the country, the Mezzogiorno, with 10% of households in absolute poverty last year. This is up from 9.4% the previous year. In the more affluent north, and in particular in the northwest, on the other hand, there was a “significant” fall, from 7.9% in 2020 to 6.7% in 2021, Caritas said in its survey, titled The Weak Link.
Caritas is an organ of the Italian Bishops’ Council (CEI). It commented the government’s anti-poverty benefit ‘citizenship wage’ basic income currently only reached 44% of those in absolute poverty. They advise it should be extended to cover the rest.
It also said the economic component of the measure should be flanked by “adequate processes of social inclusion”. The incoming government vows to partly repeal this measure, calling it ‘social methadone’.
Caritas said “the only measure combatting poverty in our country, the citizenship wage, has only been received by 4.7 million people. It would therefore be opportune that it should reach all those lying in the worst conditions, starting with those in absolute poverty”.
What does the new government have planned?
Opposition parties have said Giorgia Meloni’s pledge to revoke much of the basic income law will create a “social catastrophe”.
Meloni says her government will introduce alternative measures that are not just handouts, but will help people better find jobs.
Pope joins calls for eradication of poverty
Pope Francis joined the chorus of voices calling for the eradication of poverty Monday. He told a group of Spanish business people the best way to fight poverty is to create jobs.
The pontiff said he was looking forward to “an economy that reconciles the members of the various phases of production, so they do not despise each other, without creating greater injustice or living in cold indifference.” The pope also stressed it was work that gave people dignity. He said, “there is a remedy to fight the disease of poverty: jobs and love for the poor, overcoming social and economic prejudice”.