The Italian Constitution and laws protect disadvantaged groups, and INPS (National Institute of Social Security) is the country’s main institute providing social security and welfare. In the south of Italy there is a higher concentration of economic and social problems which the global crisis of recent years has exacerbated. In this context INPS Puglia has made enormous efforts to improve the services it provides to the general public and currently pays pensions and benefits within 30 days from the date on which the application was made for them, and determines applications on the part of companies within 15 days. INPS is paying 1,136,246 retired people, 340,000 unemployment benefits every year - half of which to farmers - and 232,477 economic benefits to civil disabled. The need to pay strict attention to the expenditure cycle, recurrent news items about inappropriate use of public money and the awareness of operating in a sector which is at risk of corruption as a result of the amount of money that it manages have led to the adoption of a series of measures in order to bring the issue of the legality of administrative action back into focus. Process engineering, upgrading ICT technologies, prompt reporting and a well-established corporate culture of transparency and impartiality have made it possible to set up a modern management control system that can operate in support of efficiency and legality.
Management control reports showed phenomena that were out of control: too many workers were employed by agricultural enterprises with small areas of cultivable land: taking into account the fact that agricultural workers enjoy particularly favourable levels of social security protection, it should be considered that modest contributions entitle them to advantageous economic benefits, such as unemployment, sickness benefit, maternity allowance and family allowances, to name only the main ones.
In addition, immigration, which brings tens of thousands of foreigners to Italy from the Mediterranean, has further increased unemployment in Puglia.
The number of agricultural workers as a percentage of the resident population was too high, especially in proportion to the total land area on which these workers were employed. Unemployment benefit, sickness benefit, maternity allowance and family allowances were paid to agricultural workers every year. When employment relations thus declared were or are not legally recognised as such, there has been a growing tendency over the years to appeal to the legal system in order to have the status of agricultural worker – and therefore the benefits accrued – recognised. Over this legal issue, Italian law primarily protected workers, considered as the "weak side", and subsequently judges sentenced INPS to pay the performances and services, to which legal annual stakes and lawyers' legal expenses were added. As of 31.12.2011 pending appeals in Puglia accounted for around 35.3% of the national total, while four INPS branches in Puglia still figure among the ten most critical branches in terms of numbers of appeals brought in Italy.
The issue was fomented also by missing health requirements that entitle to being paid as civil disabled.