Against the expensive prices who empties the shopping cart comes one card to help approximately one million and 400 thousand families in economic difficulty. Providing a contribution to reduce expenses linked to the growth in food prices, starting from those of bread, fruit and milk, is the objective of a bonus worth 382 euros, to be activated by September 30th which the Government is working on. The Minister of Agriculture Francesco Lollobrigida provides details but specifies a series of “exclusions among those who already benefit from other support”. The growth of prices due to inflation increases family spending but forces them to buy fewer products. As certified by Istat, in April retail sales rose by 3.2% in value compared to April 2022, but decreased by 4.8% in volumes. A collapse in sales which also affects basic food items defined as ‘alarming’ by consumer associations. The Government’s response, foreseen with the 2023 budget law thanks to the allocation of 500 million euros, is a Card against the high cost of living on food.
Those who will be able to use it will be families with incomes of up to 15 thousand euros and this should lead, from the calculations made by INPS together with Anci, “to around one million and 400 thousand cards which will contain 382 euros for families who have difficulty purchasing”, explains the minister. When asked whether those who benefit from citizenship income or inclusion income will be excluded from the new card, Lollobrigida specifies however that “in these hours the INPS is making calculations to make the best use of the economic capacity of the measure”. As for the timing, “the card can be activated by September 30th and all the residues of the non-activated cards will be redistributed to those of those who activated them”. The sum can be spent until 31 December 2023. While the green light is expected around mid-July but, to do so, the ministry says, the appointment of the new INPS president is awaited. The beneficiaries will be able to go and collect the Card at the post offices, after receiving the letter from the Municipality to which they belong. This intervention, adds Lollobrigida, “is in addition to another fund which this year will invest 110 million for the purchase of food to be distributed to the poor”. Alongside this “negotiations have been opened with employer organizations and large-scale retail trade to obtain the possibility of adding an investment in terms of further discounts of up to 15%”. It is not the first time that bonuses or cards have been thought of to help those who are most in difficulty. In the midst of the Covid pandemic, in March 2020, the Conte Government had provided 400 million for shopping vouchers designed to help those who were unable to purchase basic necessities to deal with the coronavirus emergency. Much better known is the Social Card launched by the then Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. In this case, the Purchasing Card consisted of a subsidy of 40 euros per month intended for families in economic difficulty to cover food and medical expenses and the payment of electricity and gas bills.