NAPLES, ITALY - 8 NOVEMBER 2018: A view of the waiting room of the Eastern Naples Job Center after its closing time, in Naples, Italy, on November 8th 2018.
Italy’s 550 state-run job centers will be in charge of verifying that recipients of the “citizens’ wage”, a welfare policy championed by the governing 5-Star Movement designed to lift 5 million Italian out of poverty, meet an important eligibility criteria: that they are actively looking for a job.
But Italians widely regard the centers as being blighted by obsolete technology and insufficient and under-qualified staff. The new populist government plans to spend 1 billion euros to modernize the centers — 10 percent of the total cost of the new policy in its first year in 2019.
The “citizens’ wage” will cost 10 billion euros next year, the most expensive item in a big-spending budget which itself has raised concerns in the European Union that Italy could be sowing the seeds of a financial crisis.