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HEALTH

Italy’s spa bonus: How you can claim €200 towards a relaxing break

From November 8th, everyone living in Italy can apply for a spa bonus, with €200 available per resident. Here's how the scheme works.

A woman swims in a spa pool.
The government is offering funds for a spa day. Really. Photo by Haley Phelps on Unsplash

In a move to support the spa sector, which was among the first to close and last to reopen amid Covid restrictions, the Italian government is now offering funds for people living in the country to go and relax at Italy’s accredited spas.

The government has confirmed it will launch the so-called ‘bonus terme‘ from November 8th, allocating up to €200 per person for 100% of the spa services purchased.

In order to be eligible for the benefit, you must be over 18 and legally resident in Italy, while the spa you choose to visit must not already be paid for by the National Health Service or other public bodies.

READ ALSO: From renovating property to buying a new car: 28 tax ‘bonuses’ you can claim from the Italian government

The government stated that “spa services” include wellness and beauty services.

Anyone interested in taking advantage of the scheme will need to book directly at an accredited spa of their choice, who will issue a reservation certificate. Reservations are valid for 60 days and any services booked must be used within that period.

 
Towels in a spa.
Take a spa break on the government and support Italy’s ‘terme‘. Photo: Denny Müller on Unsplash

“The bonus will consist of a 100% discount on the purchase price of the selected spa services, up to a maximum amount of 200 euros,” the Ministry for Economic Development stated.

The spa, rather than the customer, will need to apply for the funding from the government, meaning you do not need to claim a tax rebate.

However as the scheme doesn’t officially launch until November 8th, some spas may put customers on a waiting list if they apply now, but no vouchers can be issued until that date,

A list of participating spas will be listed on both the Economic Development Ministry’s website and the Ministry’s agency site Invitalia.

The bonus is not linked to a household’s ISEE and so everyone is able to claim the full amount of the bonus.

The Italian ISEE number is the measure used to indicate how relatively well off your household is, taking into account income, assets, debts, and other factors. It’s quite complex to calculate but you can ask your commercialista (accountant) to do this for you.

To access this bonus therefore, you don’t need to work out your household ISEE and everyone in the same family can claim the full amount.

A family of five adults, for example, can apply for one bonus per member, meaning one household could claim five bonuses worth a maximum of €1,000.

A total of €53 million has been allocated to this scheme and the bonus will run until the funds have been exhausted.

This incentive is the latest among dozens of tax ‘bonuses’ and rebates made available by the government for purchasing anything from an electric car to a first home in Italy.

For more information, see the Italian Economic Development Ministry’s website.

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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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