Economic crisis driving more Italians to seek help

Welfare systems aren't sufficient, social justice group warns

Economic crisis driving more Italians to seek help

(ANSA) - Rome, October 17 - The economic crisis is driving more Italians to seek financial help and other kinds of support, says the social justice group Caritas. In a report Wednesday, it warned that the country's social support services aren't keeping up with the demand. There is an "obvious failure" of the welfare system to deal with poverty and social emergencies resulting from the financial crisis, says Caritas in its 2012 report on poverty. There has been a dramatic jump in the number of Italian housewives turning to Caritas to help their families - an increase of almost 178% since 2009, the report said. And over that same period, the number of pensioners turning to Caritas centres has jumped by 65.6% while the number of elderly has grown by 51.3%. "The economic and financial crisis has led to the extension of the phenomena of impoverishment to large sectors of the population, that does not always coincide," with the old image of poverty, says Caritas. To support that claim, the group said it also found that Italians seem to be taking a harder hit than more recent immigrants. It found that requests for help from native Italians jumped by 20.4% in the first half of this year, while requests from immigrants rose by 7.4% compared with the same period last year. Further, it's not only the homeless, the unemployed, and marginalized people turning to Caritas centres for help, the organization said. More and more Italians who have a home and a job are still having trouble making ends meet. The number of people with a home yet still seeking help jumped by 83.2% in the first six months of this year. The number of women arriving at Caritas centres rose by 53.4% while the number of married people rose by almost 50%.

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