November 10, 2018 - 12:42 AMT
Italy could lift payments to poor and unemployed to €780 per month

Italy’s coalition government has proposed a radical scheme that could dramatically increase welfare payments to poor and unemployed Italians to as much as €780 per month, Financial Times says.

Details about who will be eligible for the so-called citizens’ income programme — the signature policy of deputy prime minister Luigi Di Maio of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement — how it will be distributed and when it will be introduced remain unclear.

But with workers in southern Italy aged under 30 earning a median wage of €840 a month for their first job, falling to €700 for those without a university degree, the policy has generated understandable excitement.

The policy, for which Rome is budgeting €9bn a year, is part of a gamble by the government that a sharp increase in state spending will help jolt Italy’s ailing economy back to life following a lost decade.

While other large European economies have recovered from the financial crisis, Italian gross domestic product remains stubbornly below where it was in 2007.

The Italian government has justified the rise in spending that will sharply increase its budget deficit by predicting that the economic stimulus and boost to consumption will help the economy grow by 1.5 per cent next year.