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Reform Support
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Supporting reforms to strengthen labour markets social protection systems, and migration management

Funding Programme
Technical Support Instrument (TSI)
Year
2021

Improving the disability assessment and social protection system in Italy

The Commission helped to support Italy in the design and implementation of reforms that will increase the adequacy of disability assessment and social protection in Italy, allowing for greater social and economic inclusion of people with disabilities. Funded via the Technical Support Instrument, it was developed by the OECD in collaboration with the European Commission, DG REFORM and Italy’s Department for Disability.Funded via the Technical Support Instrument, it was developed by the OECD in collaboration with the European Commission, DG REFORM and Italy’s Department for Disability.

Context 

The project arises from Italy's struggle with fragmented legislation affecting support for people with disabilities in education, employment, health, and social policies. A decade of unsuccessful rectification attempts led to diverse regional responses, widening nationwide disparities. Outdated medical-based disability assessments conflict with standards of the UN Convention.

Aligned with the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility, Italy aims to reform its disability policies. Challenges include harmonising disability assessments and social protection. Technical aid from the European Commission and OECD facilitates aligning Italy's disability definition with international standards and improving social support and labour inclusion for people with disabilities.

Support delivered

The project implemented in the context of the Technical Support Instrument of the European Union and implemented by the OECD in cooperation with the Directorate General for Structural Reform aimed at supporting the Italian government in its reform journey in four ways, i.e. through: i) a review of the system of disability assessment in Italy and selected countries in OECD Europe; ii) a review of the system of social protection for people with disability in Italy and selected countries in OECD Europe; iii) the organisation, implementation and evaluation of assessment pilots in four regions of Italy, whose specificities in disability assessment and social protection had been previously investigated; and iv) ongoing support to the legislative reform process.

Results achieved  

The project highlighted challenges within Italy's social protection system for people with disabilities, where legal complexities and resource limitations result in the exclusion of vulnerable individuals and regional disparities. Emphasising the crucial role of assessments in determining support eligibility and societal integration, the initiative piloted the WHO’s Disability Assessment Schedule (WHODAS) across four Italian regions, namely Campania, Lombardy, Sardinia, and Trentino. The pilot demonstrates that social workers in Italy can apply the WHODAS in a valid and reliable manner, regardless of regional contexts. Furthermore, it shows that WHODAS could alert assessors to significant disparities between functional capacity and health impairment.

Useful links

Improving the disability assessment and social protection system in Italy - OECD