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POLITICS

Families eligible for Italy’s single universal allowance from January

Families in Italy can submit applications for the new single universal child benefit from January 1st, as detailed in the government's 2022 Budget Law.

Families eligible for Italy's single universal allowance from January
Italy's new single universal allowance will replace many other family bonuses. Photo: Josep LAGO / AFP

From Saturday, the single universal child benefit (L’assegno unico e universale) is open for applications and will be distributed from March 1st 2022.

The measure forms part of Italy’s overall Budget Law 2022, which has established tax and pension reforms as well as extended some tax breaks for home renovations and help with buying a first home.

EXPLAINED: What will Italy’s new budget mean for you in 2022?

The new single allowance replaces a raft of other so-called ‘baby bonuses‘, unifying a series of measures to support families – hence the term ‘unico‘. It’s also called ‘universal’ because it is granted to all families with dependent children resident in Italy.

Scrapped bonuses include the bonus for birth or adoption (Bonus mamma domani), the allowance for families with at least three minor children, family allowances for families with children and orphans, the birth allowance (Bonus bebè) and tax deductions for children up to 21 years of age.

However, the bonus that aids kindergarten costs, Bonus asilo, remains in force.

Those eligible to apply are all categories of employees (both public and private), the self-employed, pensioners, unemployed and the unemployable.

The move will provide a monthly benefit to those who have children, from the seventh month of pregnancy until the child reaches the age of 21.

What a family receives is based on household income, according to the socio-economic indicator the government uses to calculate benefits, known as ISEE.

Approved in November by Italy’s government cabinet, the Council of Ministers, the single and universal child allowance varies depending on the ISEE and the age of the children, except for disabled children for whom there is no age limit.

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The benefit ranges from €175 to €50 per month for each child under 18.

The universal single allowance forms part of the country’s wider strategy, its so-called Family Act, which is intended to help make starting a family in the country a more affordable and realistic prospect.

It was approved for 2022 as part of a broad package of financial measures in the Budget Law, including funds for managing the continuing Covid-19 health emergency, resources to help tackle high household bills and relief for areas hit by last summer’s wildfire damage.

For more information and to apply for the single universal allowance, check the dedicated section of Italy’s social security and welfare site, ‘INPS’, here.

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ITALIAN ELECTIONS

Berlusconi to run for Senate in Italy’s elections

Scandal-plagued former premier Silvio Berlusconi said he plans to return to Italy's parliament in upcoming elections, almost a decade after being forced out over a conviction for tax fraud.

Berlusconi to run for Senate in Italy's elections

“I think that, in the end, I will be present myself as a candidate for the Senate, so that all these people who asked me will finally be happy,” the 85-year-old billionaire and media mogul told Rai radio on Wednesday.

After helping bring down Prime Minister Mario Draghi last month by withdrawing its support, Berlusconi’s centre-right Forza Italia party looks set to return to power in elections on September 25th.

It is part of a right-wing coalition led by Giorgia Meloni’s post-fascist Brothers of Italy, which includes Matteo Salvini’s anti-immigration League.

Berlusconi brushed off reports he is worried about the possibility of Meloni – whose motto is “God, country and family” – becoming prime minister.

Noting the agreement between the parties that whoever wins the most votes chooses the prime minister, he said: “If it is Giorgia, I am sure she will prove capable of the difficult task.”

READ ALSO: Italy’s hard right set for election victory after left-wing alliance collapses

But he urged voters to back his party as the moderate voice in the coalition, emphasising its European, Atlanticist stance.

“Every extra vote in Forza Italia will strengthen the moderate, centrist profile of the coalition,” he said in a separate interview published Wednesday in the Il Giornale newspaper.

League party leader Matteo Salvini (L), Fratelli d’Italia leader Giorgia Meloni and Forza Italia leader Silvio Berlusconi pictured in October 2021. The trio look set to take power following snap elections in September. Photo by CLAUDIO PERI / ANSA / AFP

Berlusconi was Italy’s prime minister three times in the 1990s and 2000s, but has dominated public life for far longer as head of a vast media and sports empire.

The Senate expelled him in November 2013 following his conviction for tax fraud, and he was banned from taking part in a general election for six years.

He was elected to the European Parliament in 2019, however, and threw his hat in the ring earlier this year to become Italy’s president — although his candidacy was predictably short-lived.

Berlusconi remains a hugely controversial figure  in Italy and embroiled in the many legal wrangles that have characterised his long career.

He remains on trial for allegedly paying guests to lie about his notorious “bunga-bunga” sex parties while prime minister.

Berlusconi has also suffered a string of health issues, some related to his hospitalisation for coronavirus in September 2020, after which he said he had almost died.

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