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ECONOMY

What will be in Italy’s August emergency decree?

With the Italian government set to announce its latest set of measures under another emergency decree, here's what we know so far.

What will be in Italy's August emergency decree?
August typically marks the start of Italy's peak holiday season - and this year, a new emergency decree. Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

After the current set of rules expired on July 31st, Italy is due to launch a new emergency decree, or DPCM (Decreto del presidente del consiglio, or prime minister's decree).

The Italian government has already extended the current state of emergency until October 15th, which means it can now get on with drafting the decreto agosto, or August decree.

READ ALSO: What is Italy's 'state of emergency' and why has it been extended?

While many people hope some of the current rules may be revised – including travel restrictions – so far it looks likely that many of the existing measures will remain in place, with the government urging people to remain cautious.

The August decree is widely expected to be focused on supporting businesses as well as funding labour protection and social security measures, with Italy now facing its “worst recession since World War Two”.

Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte (L) and Finance and Economy Minister Roberto Gualtieri. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

At a hearing at the joint budget committees of the Chamber and the Senate, Italy's Finance Minister, Roberto Gualtieri, said the money will be allocated to schools, local authorities, employees and businesses: in particular the automotive and tourism sectors.

Measures for businesses include consumer spending bonuses, social distancing incentives for hiring new employees, financial support for those returning to work, and support for employees to continue “smart working”, or working from home. The package of measures will cost an estimated €25 billion, ministers said.

The decree is also expected to lay out which safety precautions – notably mandatory face masks, social distancing on transport and limits on public gatherings – will continue.

The full contents of the new decree were expected to be announced in a speech by the prime minister in the first week of August, though Italian media now reports that it won't come into force until August 10th.

As yet nothing has been officially confirmed. But for now, here's what we know about the main policies likely to be included.

Face masks to remain compulsory

Wearing a face mask in enclosed public spaces, including shops and public transport, is expected to remain mandatory throughout Italy until at least the end of August, reports say.

Social distancing on public transport
 
Trains and buses don't look set to travel full anytime soon, after the government ordered rail operators to keep at least half their seats empty.
 
Some companies had been planning to relax social distancing requirements after the last decree expired at the end of July, but the Health Ministry insisted that passengers should continue to sit at least a metre apart and never face to face.
 
 
The government is expected to keep the requirement in place for trains, buses and metros in its new decree, despite opposition from some regional governors.
 

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP
 
Cruises to resume
 
The government wants to restart the cruise industry later in August, Health Minister Roberto Speranza told the senate. 
 
It's not clear when ships will be allowed to sail again, or how many people they'll be permitted to carry.
 
Football without fans and no nightclubs
 
While some were hoping Italy might allow spectators to return to stadiums again, the government's medical advisors are opposed to the idea. That means that Serie A matches will probably continue to be played without the crowds for the foreseeable future.
 
The experts have also advised the government to keep its limits on other public gatherings in place, according to reports, namely no more than 200 people allowed in any concert halls or other indoor venues, and maximum 1,000 outdoors.
 
Nightclubs are expected to remain closed, but trade fairs could be allowed to resume with safety measures in place.
 
 
Discounts for paying by card
 
Italy has been trying to encourage the use of cards instead of cash for a while, hoping it will make payments more traceable and help crack down on tax evasion. And since the lockdown it's also hoping to boost consumer spending, especially in restaurants and other city centre businesses emptied out by a lack of tourists and locals working from home. 
 
The government is rumoured to be considering killing two birds with one stone by offering incentives to people who make consumer purchases by card. The scheme could take the form of money back, either refunded directly to your bank account or in the form of a tax credit. 
 
At least €2 million has reportedly been allocated to the scheme.
 

Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP
 
Overtime for doctors
 
Doctors and nurses in the national health service will be offered overtime to catch up on check-ups, screenings, surgeries and other appointments that were cancelled at the height of the pandemic. 
 
The new decree allocates an extra €480 million to pay for the extra hours and allows regions to up their health spending, according to a draft seen by news agency Ansa.
 
Employee furlough scheme to continue
 
One of the most-discussed policies set to be included in the new decree is the extension of the cassa integrazione (CIG), a policy preventing businesses from laying off employees by covering part of the salary – similar to the furlough schemes implemented in the UK and elsewhere.
 
This could continue for another 18 weeks under the new decree, according to Italian media reports.
 
However, under the new decree it may only be extended for companies which have recorded a year-on-year drop in turnover of more than 20 percent.
 
 
Delayed tax collections
 
Under measures provided in previous decrees Italian taxpayers have been able to defer tax payments due this year. This is expected to continue, and tax collections could be delayed until mid-October under the new decree. 
 
There are currently some six million “suspended” tax bills in Italy, according to Italian financial website Money.it.
 
Hotels, B&Bs, campsites and beach bars are also expected to get extra time to pay the second instalment of their IMU property tax. 
 
Extension of unemployment benefits
 
Unemployment support payments for those who have lost jobs during the crisis were set to end in August, but this policy now looks likely to remain in place for another two months. This has not been confirmed, however.
 
 
600-euro payments for (some) self-employed workers
 
The 600-euro emergency payments introduced to help the self-employed  hit by the crisis is expected to stay in place – but only for those working in the two worst-hit sectors; tourism and unemployment, according to Labour Minister Nunzia Catalfo, Italian media reports.
 
 

Mortgage moratorium 
 
The government is reportedly assessing an extension to the policy of allowing homeowners to defer mortgage payments.
 
“Many families are still in economic difficulties due to the employment crisis and drop in turnover for businesses, so the extension – although not yet confirmed – would seem plausible,” writes Money.it
 
There are no reported discussions of any policy allowing  tenants to defer their rent payments, however.

Member comments

  1. We made it to Italy from the U.S. last week, and we are just finishing our first week of isolation. We booked a nonstop on Alitalia from Boston to Rome. We really had very few problems, but the fact that we own a home in Italy, plus we have Italian passports, may have “greased the wheels” for us. We did run into the situation that the declaration forms had changed a few days before our flight, so they gave us new ones to fill out. In Boston, we were told to put both of our names on the form, but the police in Rome didn’t like that. We walked back to the line entrance and filled out new forms at a table with a bunch of other people. They had stacks of forms in both Italian and English. I made sure we had proof of home ownership and photos of the water-damaged walls, which is the reason I gave for traveling, but no one ever asked questions or to see our supporting documents–just the declaration form. Now, we take our temperatures twice a day and email the numbers to the local health department. Next week, they will send someone out to give us a Covid test. We have friends who are hoping to travel to Italy next week. They are also homeowners and they have the permesso di soggiorno, so we’ll see what happens to them. Our other friends and homeowners are trying to come in September, but they have only American passports. The rules are very confusing, and it’s true, the airlines seem to be the gatekeepers. We’ve received confirmation from both a consulate and the Office of Foreign Affairs that every homeowner is allowed to “return home”, but the airlines seem to have their own rules. Our story may not be helpful to others, but I’ll let you know what happens to our friends.

  2. We flew from JFK last week to Rome, then on to Sardinia on Alitalia. We registered with the Sardegna Sicura app as residents of Sardinia and received permission by email and on the app to enter Sardinia. We had to confirm our trip within 48 hours of our return. The app includes the Covid declaration.
    To board in New York, we had our temperature taken, “new Covid forms” committing to 14 days quarantine, and presentation of our Italian /EU residency documents.(my understanding of the rules is that freedom to travel is based on Italian/EU residency, rather than citizenship and / or property ownership).Boarding passes were issued based upon our US passports.
    Entry in Rome required new “Covid 19” forms. Boarding to Sardinia was a temperature check and another check upon arrival. We had to present out US Passports and Italian residency documents in Rome to enter.
    While in quarantine, there have been no official checks. However we are in a small town and we know the police and they know us well. There is also contact tracing with the Sardegna Sicura app.
    I hope this is helpful

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MONEY

How much does it cost to raise a child in Italy?

How big is the financial commitment parents have to make in Italy to pay for their offspring’s needs and expenses until they’re grown up and independent? Here's a look at the predicted costs.

How much does it cost to raise a child in Italy?

Family is the bedrock of Italian society, but it’s also an unbalanced economic crutch, propping up children who leave home much later than most of their European counterparts.

Various factors are at play, from a declining birth rate, youth unemployment, being unable to get on the property ladder to young Italians moving abroad in search of better financial opportunities.

It probably comes as little shock, then, that parents in Italy end up forking out huge sums of cash to support their offspring through childhood and early adulthood (and beyond).

Even just up to the age of 18, raising a child in Italy can cost upwards of €320,000, according to data from Italian consumer research body ONF (Osservatorio Nazionale Federconsumatori).

The average spend of raising a child from 0-18 years is €175,642, but it rises in families with high incomes, classed as over €70,000 per year.

READ ALSO: Italian class sizes set to shrink as population falls further

Researchers noted that the cost of bringing up children has jumped up following the effects of the pandemic too: compared to 2018, child-rearing expenses increased by 1.2 percent by 2020.

The decrease in expenditure related to transport due to spending more time at home, as well as those incurred for sports and leisure activities, was not enough to mitigate the increase in costs for housing and utilities, which increased by 12 percent compared to 2018.

Photo by Suzanne Emily O’Connor on Unsplash

Food prices rose by 8 percent compared to 2018 and education and care jumped by 6 percent for the same timeframe.

In fact, Italy ranks as the third most expensive country in the world for raising children, only coming behind South Korea and China, according to data from investment bank JEF.

The pandemic has contributed to extending an already growing phenomenon: the decrease in annual income of Italian households.

Household income dropped by 2.8 percent from 2019 to 2020, the report found, citing data from national statistics agency Istat. It marks a further squeeze for families, especially low-income and single-parent families.

Depending on earnings, the amount needed to bring up a child until the age of 18 varies considerably.

READ ALSO: ‘Kids are adored here’: What being a parent in Italy is really like

A two-parent family with an annual income of €22,500 spends an average of €118,234.15 to bring up a child until the age of 18; for the same type of family but with an average income of €34,000 per year, the total expenditure to bring up a child increases to €175,642.72.

For high-income families, stated as over €70,000 annually, raising a child costs €321,617.36 on average.

The figures mark an increase of around €5,000 for low- and middle-income families, and a much sharper rise of €50,000 for high-income families, compared to ten years ago.

The money gets spent on housing, food, clothing, health, education and ‘other’ categories. The report revealed that the average spend on a child aged 16 years old is almost €11,500 annually, amounting to €955.78 per month.

Almost €2,000 per year gets spent on food, €1,615 goes on transport and communication, €782 goes on clothing and €1,600 goes on education annually, the report found.

They begin small, yet the costs are anything but. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP)

For the ONF, “these data highlight how, today more than ever, having a child is becoming a luxury reserved for the few, which fewer and fewer Italians are able to afford.”

READ ALSO:

The numbers on supporting children after their 18th birthday are a little hazier, as when children eventually fly the nest varies – but figures from Eurostat show that Italy ranks third in Europe for the average oldest age at which children move out of the parental home, at 30.2 years old.

Only young people from Croatia and Slovakia wait longer to live independently, while the EU average for flying the nest is 26.4 years old.

Even then after eventually leaving home at over 30 years old, it’s not entirely clear how many Italians are fully independent once they get their own address, or whether their parents continue to bankroll their living costs.

Italy’s president Sergio Mattarella sent a message to Italy’s Birth Foundation (Fondazione per la Natalità) in May stating, “The demographic structure of the country suffers from serious imbalances that significantly affect the development of our society.”

In response to worsening economic circumstances, the Italian government has recently pledged to do more to help people have families and reverse Italy’s continuing declining birth rate.

It has introduced the Single Universal Allowance (L’assegno unico e universale), but along with it has dropped various so-called ‘baby bonuses’ that provided lump sums to new parents.

The new allowance is a monthly means-tested benefit for those who have children, or are about to have a child. It is payable from the seventh month of pregnancy until the child reaches the age of 18 or in some cases, 21. For more information on what it is and how to claim it, see here.

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