Italy Vs Scotland, Heat 5: The Economy

The Economy. Italy, you are screwed.

I really shouldn’t have included this one in the competition, it seems a bit unfair really considering the state of affairs here. It is an incredibly important part of living in any country however so really and truly it couldn’t be ignored.

1. Work

Work has been a sore spot in Italy for since much longer than the beginning of the crisis, especially when you consider the South of the country which is after all the area I know best. Unemployment is sky high in this area, 25% compared to just 6% in Scotland, and youth unemployment is even worse, reaching highs of 50% in some areas. Worst off ar women under the age of 35 in my region – for us, unemployment is at around 60%.

Even if you get a job, things aren’t a bed of roses. Wages have not risen with inflation, and with the introduction of the Euro the cost of living has skyrocketed while wages have remained stagnant. Working without a contract and therefore without any kind of legal protection or pension funding is rife, and those who do have contracts often find themselves with temporary positions renewed month after month with no hope of a steady job which would allow them the financial stability to move out of mum’s house, let alone get married, buy a property and have kids – thus the perpetual children of Italy live, not out of choice but out of necessity.

Yes we have our problems in Scotland. The zero hours contracts, the part time “flexible” work which people are on call constantly for little to no pay. All a problem. Italy’s situation however is even more dramatic.

Scotland 1, Italy 0

2. Taxes

Corporate tax – Italy, 27.5%, UK 20%
Individual min and max – Italy 23% – 43%, UK 0%-45%
Payroll tax – Italy flat 39%, UK max 25.8%
VAT – Italy 22%, UK 20%

Tax is higher in Italy. We also pay an illegal road tax for which the Italian government gets fined every year by the EU (the fine doesn’t exceed the money they get out of us though, so they keep doing it) a gazillion council taxes, property taxes, taxes (of a sort) to use the motorway and taxes every time we need to fill out government paperwork, which is a regular occurance thanks to ridiculous bureaucracy.

That would be fine if we had the services to go with that… but we don’t. The roads are a mess, the NHS (ASL) falling apart, the public transport non existent and public offices nearly always closed when you need them. The money gets sucked into the black hole which is public debt, for where the crisis in most of the developed world may have been caused by frenetic private borrowing, it is public borrowing which has dug Italy into a hole that it can’t get out of.

Scotland 2, Italy 0

3. Cost of living

The Italians have been told that the reason wages are lower here is that cost of living is lower here. They have been fed a lie. That was true before the Euro, since then wages have stayed the same or decreased and the cost of living has exploded. Where I live the average wage is 900€ a month. The average rent (not including condo fees, council tax or bills) is €600 a month for a one bedroom flat, €400 for a room in a shared flat.

Add to that car repayments, petrol, car tax and tolls (some of the most expensive their are), sky high bills, food and other expenses…

Nope, they can’t do it. About the only thing that’s cheaper in Italy than in the UK is food.

Scotland 3, Italy 0

4. Banks and credit

I’ve never tried to get a mortgage in the UK, or really any other kind of credit. I do know that credit is and always has been harder to get and far more expensive here than in most of the rest of the developed world. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing in that it discourages overspending and risky deals, but it does tend to throttle small businesses. When you consider that Italy’s economy is almost entirely based upon said small businesses…

Not good.

Not knowing enough about the situation in the UK I’ll leave this one to a draw.

Scotland 3, Italy 0

This was always gonna be a tough one for you to win Italy. Let’s see how you do with the next heat, which is… Oh, driving. Sorry about that.

With love, from Italy