This sounds like a good idea…
From this week until the end of the year Italian teenagers will get a €500 ‘culture bonus’ on their 18th birthday.
The bonus has to be spent on the good things of life: books; concert, theatre and cinema tickets; museum visits and trips to national parks.
It is thought that over half a million Italian teenagers will benefit at a cost of €290 million to the state, but, of course, that money is going to be ploughed straight back into the creative economy. And perhaps kick-start a lifetime’s consumption.
It sounds like a very good idea, but it is a one off. Next year the Italian government is planning a similar bonus for teachers. They will get €500 to spend on their professional development.
If you could give £500/$500/€500 to one particular group for one particular reason what would you choose?
My first thought was a holiday for carers, but even if the five hundred covered the full amount of a modest holiday there would still be other costs: new clothes; spending money and, of course, substitute care. You have to be very careful giving a grant to people living on the margins – and a lot of carers are – if it means they have to find extra money to make the most of it.
So my second thought was to give a grant to 30 to 40 year olds to enrol on some form of part time course as long as it had absolutely nothing to do with how they were earning a living. The third decade is an important one in most of our lives, very often it is the busiest when we’re making our way in a career or taking care of family or both and the grant might be the incentive needed to enjoy some much needed ‘me’ time outside the home. And who knows where that course might take you? I once met a wine merchant who became a stained glass artist after he became redundant all because of an evening class he took some years earlier on a whim…but even if it doesn’t have a tangible outcome, it is better to do something than not to do something; it’s better to extend your interests and knowledge (even if it’s only that bagpipe playing is just as hard as it looks); and discover that there’s no sell-by-date on learning.
So, who would get a grant if you were in charge and what would they have to spend it on?