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MONEY

Italy’s €53 million spa bonus claimed within first three hours

Funds for Italy's spa vouchers worth €200 per person ran out within a few hours of the opening of bookings. But there's still a chance to claim for those who missed out.

Italy's spa bonus funds were claimed in just a few hours.
Italy's spa bonus funds were claimed in just a few hours. Photo by Jamie Fenn on Unsplash

After a false start when Italy’s spa voucher website crashed due to demand and confusion, the total funds worth €53 million were used up within just three hours of online applications resuming.

Bookings re-opened on Tuesday November 9th for Italy’s much-anticipated bonus terme, or spa bonus, which promises up to €200 euros off the cost of spa treatments for every adult resident in the country.

Around 300,000 citizens tried to apply on the platform’s operator Invitalia when applications opened the day before. But the site was in fact intended for spa operators to claim the bonus on behalf of their customers.

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

Described, in the end, as “a very successful operation” by Italy’s spa federation Federterme in a press release, the government-funded spa bonus “has relaunched a sector that has a great tradition in Italy but had been stagnating for some time”.

But for those who missed out on this occasion, there’s still a chance to benefit from this wellbeing bonus.

Many are calling for the measure to be refinanced, and some parliamentarians have already done so, according to Italian media reports.

After the government originally allocated a total of €53 million to this scheme, there has been no confirmation of how much – if anything – will be earmarked for the spa bonus again in the future.

However, the president of Federterme, Massimo Caputi, thanked the authorities for their “far-sightedness in launching the measure” and asked for the incentive to “be immediately refinanced”.

“The search for cures, prevention, rehabilitation and wellness is nowadays a fundamental element of new lifestyles, especially following the dramatic pandemic, and Italian spas can be a key element of ‘health and wellness tourism’,” the organisation added.

Even if authorities decide not to pump more money into the spa bonus again, there is another chance to get your hands on the perk.

Each voucher claimed is valid for 60 days and some individual spas have set an even shorter timeframe in which you can claim.

If the voucher is not used within this period, it becomes available to other users. In about two months, therefore, some of these resources could become available again.

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

Anyone hoping to claim the spa bonus – should any vouchers become available – will need to book directly with one of the spa facilities listed on the Invitalia website. The spa will then apply for the discount via the website on behalf of the customer.

The incentive, launched by the government in order to boost Italy’s leisure sector amid the Covid-hit economic downturn, covers up to 100 percent of any spa service up to a maximum of €200 per person.

Everyone who is legally resident in Italy and over the age of 18 is entitled to claim the bonus, regardless of income.

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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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