Presented the 4th Censis-Tendercapital Report on Social Sustainability
16 February 2023
Welfare will be able to return to providing essential universalist services, cushioning excessive inequalities and supporting people only with the return of work as the primary source of opportunities for income and social advancement. This is what emerges from the Fourth Censis-Tendercapital Report on ‘Social Sustainability and the Renewed Challenge of Italian Welfare’, presented at the Senate with the aim of drawing attention, through the opinions, behaviours and values of Italians, to the difficulties encountered by the two pillars of the Italian social model, families and the State, which are called upon to measure themselves against new constraints and global crises.
“Our society,” said Censis president Giuseppe De Rita, “is marked by a crucial element: the fear of future uncertainty. It is what most conditions expectations and often makes us see reality blacker than it is. Unfortunately, inflation, war, and the energy crisis have generated problems, but so far social sustainability in Italy has held up well. The real risk is for the near future to continue floating on fear and, in this situation, the worst thing is to rely on opinionism rather than reasoning about the real chemistry of our society’.
“The data of the Fourth Censis-Tendercapital Report on Social Sustainability and Italian Welfare,” said Tendercapital President Moreno Zani, “clearly highlight the difficulties currently facing the two pillars of the Italian social model, families and the State. In fact, the economic straits of many households are growing and, despite the fact that both income and consumer spending have held up well in 2022, a severe contraction in their savings must be noted. A situation of instability, in short, that generates uncertainty and concern for the future, but also the conviction that we can work for a new inclusive, prosperous and sustainable welfare”.
“The Report,” Maurizio Gasparri, Vice-President of the Senate of the Republic, pointed out, “highlights perplexities, concerns and expectations linked to inflation and the economic and social context. Looking at the historical aspect, the country has made progress with regard to welfare, recording an advance in terms of protection. However, much remains to be done and this Report shows us an important path to follow’.
Concern for the future, between inflation and the escalator – Italians are worried about the near future of society. 84.9% say they see uncertainty and insecurity. Alarming is the blocking of social mobility, which for 58.6% of citizens will increase social inequalities. For 43.3%, there will be less equity and social justice in Italian society; 36.9% fear less attention to workers’ rights. Rising prices catalyse Italians’ fears. 75.4% are convinced that they will have no increase in household income in the coming year, while 73.9% of Italians think they will have to cut back on spending. The reaction to the threat of inflation leads 86.9% to be in favour of indexing wages, salaries and salaries to price increases, returning to the sliding scale.
Spending cuts and income maintenance – Higher prices translate into lower consumption of goods and services for the same income, so 59.7% of Italians are convinced that they will have to reduce their spending on shoes and clothing, 62.3% on holidays, travel and leisure, while 41.7% think they will have to forgo full-paying treatments or medical visits from their own resources. However, household incomes and consumption expenditure held up well in 2022. In fact, the gross disposable income of consumer households remained unchanged in the comparison between Q1-Q3 2021 and the same quarters of 2022, -0.3% in real terms.
Fall in household savings and health alarm – The Fourth Censis-Tendercapital Report shows how household savings, in the comparison between the first nine months of 2022 and those of 2021, contracted drastically in nominal terms (-292 billion euro) and in real terms (-11.3%). Cash, on the other hand, increased nominally by EUR 36 billion, but decreased in real terms by 3.8%. There are 7.5 million people belonging to households whose incomes barely cover their outgoings, and there is an increase, compared to 2010, in both absolute poverty (they were 3% of the total) and relative poverty (they were 7%). Public welfare is struggling more and more: 67.3% of Italians, in the twelve months preceding the interview, had to turn to the private sector for healthcare services. Thus only 40.4% are satisfied with the functioning of the National Health Service in their region, while in 2019 it was 55%.
Practicable welfare tools – 90.4% of Italians, with percentages across income, professional status, age and educational qualifications, are in favour of setting a minimum wage by law. With regard to citizenship income, 65.1% of Italians consider it a tool to help people in difficulty; at the same time, 73.2% are convinced that this tool disincentivises people from working, while more than 88% believe that public money should be used to incentivise job search.