€500 given to every 18-year-old in the country - The money can be spent on gigs, theatre tickets, museum entry and books. If there are two things the UK government doesn’t seem to give a shit about, it’s young people and the arts. Funding for the latter has been systematically slashed by 40 per cent over the last six years, while the former... well, where do we even begin?
University fees have trebled, all course grants have been cut, and benefits are basically non-existent. Even the widely praised national living wage – a scheme that’s apparently meant to improve citizen's living standards – has only been made available to people over the age of 25.
Now, to highlight this disdain even further, our neighbours in Italy have decided to offer all teenagers living in the country a €500 (£430 - CA $426) “cultural bonus”. The move is reportedly being introduced as a way of helping school leavers enjoy culturally enriching pursuits, with recipients able to spend the money on gigs, theatre tickets, museum entry, and books.
While Italy admittedly isn’t perfect when it comes to quality of life for young people – it’s currently stuck with a 40 per cent youth unemployment rate – the government plans to give the bonus to every 18-year-old in the country from September 15 this year. The money will apparently benefit around 575,000 teenagers, with the scheme costing around €290 million (£250 million) to implement.
“It sends a clear message – a welcome for those who reach the age of 18 and a reminder of how crucial culture is, both for personal enrichment and for strengthening the social fabric of the country,” explained Tommaso Nannicini, the junior minister in charge of the scheme.
Any teenager living in Italy will just need to register online before then downloading an app (known as 18app.it) to access their bonus. They will then have one year to use that app to buy products or tickets that fall under the ‘culture’ remit.
“This is a bonus for kids coming of age,” said Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi when the scheme was first announced last year. “(It will) give them the symbolic awareness of what it means to be an adult in Italy – a main protagonist and heir of the greatest cultural heritage in the world.”