Fight poverty by creating jobs says pope on international day
(ANSA) – ROME, OCT 17 – Italian poverty continued to be at an all-time high in 2021, conforming its peaks attained in 2020 when the COVID pandemic began, Catholic charity Caritas said in its XXI report on poverty and social exclusion issued on the UN’s International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on Monday.
There were 1.96 million families in absolute poverty in 2021, amounting to 5,571,000 people or 9.4% of Italy’s resident population, the report said.
Incidence is still higher in the poorer south of the country, the Mezzogiorno, with 10% of households in absolute poverty last year, up from 9.4% the previous year.
In the more affluent north, and in particular in the northwest, on the other hand, there was a “significant” fall, from 7.9% in 2020 to 6.7% in 2021, Caritas said in its survey, titled The Weak Link.
Caritas is an organ of the Italian Bishops’ Council (CEI), which commented that the government’s anti-poverty benefit ‘citizenship wage’ basic income currently only reached 44% of those in absolute poverty and should be extended to cover the rest.
It said the economic component of the measure, which the incoming government has vowed to partly repeal, calling it ‘social methadone’, should be flanked by “adequate processes of social inclusion”.
Caritas said “the only measure combatting poverty in our country, the citizenship wage, has only been received by 4.7 million people…and it would therefore be opportune that it should reach all those lying in the worst conditions, starting with those in absolute poverty”.
Opposition parties have said likely new premier Giorgia Meloni’s pledge to revoke much of the basic income law will create a “social catastrophe”.
Meloni says alternative measures that are not just handouts but will help people better find jobs will be introduced by her rightwing government.
Pope Francis joined the chorus of voices calling for the eradication of poverty Monday, telling a group of Spanish business people that the best way to fight poverty is to create jobs.
The pontiff said he was looking forward to “an economy that reconciles the members of the various phases of production, so they do not despise each other, without creating greater injustice or living in cold indifference.” Stressing that it was work that gave people dignity, the pope said “there is a remedy to fight the disease of poverty: jobs and love for the poor, overcoming social and economic prejudice”. (ANSA).