Persons with disabilities:funds for employers and less bureaucracy. The Italian model to the United Nations

Translation of the interview to Minister Alessandra Locatelli published on the Corriere della Sera, 16 May 2023, page 37

Minister Alessandra Locatelli explains the recent measures. Her commitment also on ad hoc protocols for care provision in hospitals. Next month she will attend the United Nations Assembly.

Persons with disabilities: funds for employers and less bureaucracy. The Italian model to the United Nations

by Alessandra Piccolillo

Seven million euro to support Third Sector Bodies that hire young persons with disabilities. No, more bureaucracy for health assessments and prescriptions. A 10 million euro fund for inclusive suburbs. New rules to make services in public administrations and workstations accessible for employees with disabilities. Shortly four more implementing decrees for the Enabling Law will renew the look upon the world of disability. Alessandra Locatelli, for the second time Lega Minister for Disabilities (the first one, by the first short Conte government, “for me it was a good training” she says with a smile). 

Why are You so optimistic in a picture which is not so disposed to help vulnerable persons?

“The picture is changing and my opinion is that persons should not simply be helped but valued, because every single person has got talents and skills to invest in and this becomes a resource for the community and for our country. That is why I am pretty satisfied and I am convinced that we can work to do even more.”

What does the implementation of the Enabling Law on Disability involve?

“It consists of 5 implementing decrees. The first, approved by the Council of Ministers on May 1st, provides for the reclassification of public administrations to ensure physical accessibility for citizens to the public spaces and to all services of the public entities. This measure also concerns workers with disabilities who must be able to use spaces, digital technologies and do their own work independently. The other decrees cover the establishment of the National Guarantor for persons with disabilities, the Table for the identification of the levels of social benefits, the reform of the assessment of civil disability status, as well as the multidimensional assessment for the life project of persons with disabilities. They are to be enacted by spring 2024.”

And what are the seven million euros for?

“A dedicated fund will be established to guarantee a contribution in favour of the Third Sector Bodies which facilitate the integration of young persons with disabilities up to the age of 35 in the labour market through a permanent contract. The fund will soon be supplemented with other resources and may be refinanced, if it is as successful as I hope it will be.”

What other incentives did the decree of May Day include?

“An important measure enhances and incentivizes job placement and activities supporting job placement. While waiting to reform Law 68/99, I have decided to give economic incentives to the Third Sector Bodies which, especially in the past few years that have been very difficult, have been able to provide opportunities and create jobs, that’s why they deserve to be valued.”

What will you do against the excessive bureaucratic red tape?

“Some initial help has arrived. In the draft of the Enabling Law for the simplification of administrative procedures, we have introduced important and concrete measures for the life of the most fragile persons and their families. Thanks to this provision we have included important possibilities for simplification. In particular, persons with chronic and disabling pathologies will have the opportunity to take advantage of prescriptions with unlimited repeatability for medicines, therapeutic cycles and aids. Furthermore, it will be possible to access the various services by using the same documentation, avoiding red tape and overlapping bureaucracy. But there will be much more in the implementing decrees. The life of persons with disabilities and that of their families is complex and I truly believe it is necessary to do everything to support and help them so that medical visits, requests for aids and all kinds of prescriptions do not continue to be a huge burden. As unfortunately it has been up to now”.

Among the implementing decrees you have cited the reform concerning the assessment of the condition of disability. What will change?

“Up to now, the assessment of the condition of civil disability has been based on the determination of the residual capacity of a person to be able to work, through the use of tables and percentages. With the reform we will introduce a fairer evaluation, also based on the person’s own functionalities and abilities. This will be a real revolution for the system, which has been working in the same way for so many years, but this renewal is necessary and must be linked to the other passage I care about and which will significantly revolutionize the point of view on disability: the life project. With the life project we intend to describe a path of taking charge and accompaniment of the person, through combining services and activities of a health, socio-medical and social nature. This is the keystone for the future, directly arising from the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which will really allow to guarantee a more dignified life for everyone. This path still requires a lot of effort, but I will do my best”.

You have always worked in the world of disabilities.

“Knowing these worlds and the related issues obviously helps me. For example, I know the fatigue of persons with disabilities facing hospitalizations, treatments and hospital checks: this is the reason why we are trying to spread the ‘DAMA’ [Disabled Advanced Medical Assistance] protocols throughout the territory, through guidelines shared with the Ministry of Health. I have already talked about it with Minister Schillaci and we will bring this model of action even to the United Nations Conference to be held next month in New York. I am convinced that Italy has a lot to work on, to improve standards and services, but I am also convinced that we have excellent projects, a highly qualified Third Sector and a great human capacity for cooperation that distinguish us from many other countries”.

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