Two ways to help cover rising fuel costs

President Macron hints at aid for poorer households struggling with soaring costs

President Emmanuel Macron is standing firm in the face of planned nationwide protests over rising fuel prices in France.

As reported, motorists are threatening to block roads in a nationwide protest on November 17.

But Mr Macron again defended the government on French radio on Tuesday morning, repeating his mantra that  he preferred a tax on fuel to a tax on work during an interview with broadcaster Europe1.

But he acknowledged driving was a fact of daily life for many people, and agreed that a relief scheme in northern France that gives financial help to commuters who drive 30 kilometres or more to work should be extended to the whole country.

Under the scheme in Hauts-de-France, which was one of a series of measures to improve employment rates adopted in 2016, employees on fixed-term or permanent contracts, who live more than 30km from work, do not have access to public transport, and who earn less than twice the minimum wage (2,347 euros net) are eligible for a one-off monthly payment of €20 into their bank accounts.

He also said he understood the "anger" of people who do not have the means to "heat themselves with dignity" due to rising fuel prices. He said: it was necessary to "look at how to improve the energy cheque because we cannot leave people while winter begins in a situation that does not allow us to heat ourselves with dignity".

The energy cheque help households on modest incomes to pay their winter fuel bills. It varies between €44 and €277 depending on the composition of the household, with an average payment of €150. Created in 2015 by the law on energy transition and green growth, it was tested in four departments before being rolled out nationwide in 2018.

The payment in the form of vouchers is already sent directly to eligible households depending on the income they have declared and is eligible until March 31 the following year. All energy professionals must accept the cheques in payment or part-payment.

Average payments are set to increase €50 under plans contained in the 2019 finance bill.

Certificates sent with the energy cheque grant additional fees: exemption from gas or electricity commissioning costs when moving, reduction of costs and maintenance of power in the event of a payment incident.

On Sunday, Les Républicains MPs Guillaume Peltier and Damien Abad proposed a "fuel cheque" of €100 per month to "13 million French people in the provinces". Their plans to finance the scheme via an exceptional tax on motorway companies, and by contributions from employers and employees, has been criticised, however.

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