Disability funds, 900 million available but not even 1 euro spent in four years

Even in 2023 the Government is unable to spend the funds for disability policies, as has already happened since 2020. What is missing are the implementing decrees

For the past four years the State has allocated hundreds of millions of euros every year for policies in favor of disability, without however managing to spend even a single euro. The problem recurred, promptly, also at the end of 2023 when the Government decided to find another destination for the unused 350 million euros. The money from the “Fund for policies in favor of people with disabilities” therefore ended up contributing to the financing of the increased spending on building bonuses, the revaluation of pensions and the renewal of state contracts.

Decrees never arrived

The fault lies with the implementing decrees of law 227 of December 2021, which should have arrived by August of this year but which instead received the first green light from the Government only last November 3rd. Now we will have to wait for Parliament’s opinions, and then arrive at their definitive approval by mid-2024 (a deadline also foreseen by the Pnrr). Without those decrees those resources “could not be used”, as clarified by the Ministry for Disabilities. Furthermore, since the Government expects the decrees to come into force from January 1, 2025, the possibility of spending the 350 million next year appears seriously compromised.

350 million removed from 2023 and spread from 2026

The issue has raised much controversy over the budget bill signed by the Meloni government. The 350 million euros expected in 2023 were in fact allocated to something else, but at the same time the funds from 2026 onwards were increased in a structural way, by 85 million per year.

For this reason, the Government excludes the possibility of a cut, as denounced by some associations and the opposition. What is certain is that in 2023 – as has been the case for four years now – those funds will not be spent on disability: this is where the criticism focuses. Like those of Lisa Noja (regional councilor in Lombardy for Italia Viva and activist for the rights of disabled people) who states that the money should have remained “destined for the field of disabilities and, in particular, for independent living projects”.

Lots of funds, little money

Disability funds in Italy generally suffer from poor effectiveness. According to the monitoring of the research service of the Chamber of Deputies, there are at least 11 different ones, of varying size and purpose, without counting all those planned at regional level.

On one of the most relevant – that for the so-called “After us”, aimed at ensuring a future for people with serious disabilities after the death of those who care for them – the Court of Auditors found that only half of the money they actually reached the regions, which did not report their expenditure (and therefore nothing is known about the real expenditure).