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€2billion for anti-poverty plan

Increasing payments to the jobless should be the priority to tackle poverty, the prime minister said

INCREASING RSA income support by 10% by 2017 will be a key plank in a €2billion anti-poverty plan, the prime minister has said.

Jean-Marc Ayrault said that RSA is less generous than its predecessor RMI. Changing this will be a key plank in an anti-poverty plan expected to cost at least €2billion by 2017.

Other priorities will include extending free state healthcare – the CMU-C – to an extra 500,000 new recipients, spending an extra €100million a year on housing measures and launching a scheme supporting young people who struggle to find permanent work.

Ayrault was speaking at a national conference on poverty being held in Paris.

RSA, introduced in 2009, is intended to boost the income of unemployed people who have exhausted the right to jobseekers’ benefits (the function of RMI) or also that of some people on low-paid work that does not enable them to “live decently”.

Ayrault was referring in particular to the RSA socle, which relates to those who are out of work and is paid to people aged at least 25 in stable residence in France, based on income ceilings.

It is meant to guarantee a minimum level of income and varies according to the family make-up, income levels, and what other benefits the family claims. The basic rate is €474.93 for a single person or €712.40 for a couple.

Ayrault said: “While the RMI was 50% of the minimum wage when it was created in 1989, and was still at that level in 2002, its successor, the RSA socle only represents 43% of the minimum wage now.” France therefore showed “less solidarity than 10 or 20 years ago”, he said.

So as to take it back to 50% he said it would be necessary to increase the actual amount paid by 17%, setting a goal of doing so in 10 years, starting with a first revaluation in September next year leading to a 10% increase by 2017.

The move would increase costs for departmental councils, which pay the RSA, however they would be compensated for this.

The measure was criticised as insufficient by a body representing the unemployed, the Mouvement National des Chômeurs et Précaires (MNCP). “There is no shake-up of solidarity here, it’s just a drop in the ocean,” it said.

However, from the political right, the leader of the UMP Party MPs Christian Jacob said: “Once again the government is going for a politics of hand-outs”.

Mr Ayrault said he also planned reforms of the RSA actif, the branch for the low-paid, which he would be looking at in the first half of next year.

In particular he wants to reduce the numbers of eligible people who do not claim it, he said – thought to be as much as 70%. This should be done by making procedures simpler and running a publicity campaign so that people know their rights.

There is no age limit to benefit from RSA but other benefits usually replace it from state retirement age. Applications can be made to your local Caf (family benefits body), to your departmental council or (in some cases) mairie, with evidence of your income for the last three months. It is not available for expats who have come to France seeking work.

A related measure will be aimed at the young, called the garantie jeunes, which will be launched in September next year. Young people in financial difficulty will be able to sign a renewable one-year contract and will benefit, in periods without work, from an income equivalent to the RSA.

In housing, the government says it will look at new measures against evictions, for landlord and tenant mediation, “better adapted” housing and more “support into housing”. A previous pledge to build 150,000 new social housing homes a year will be met and 4,000 extra temporary shelter places and 4,000extra places for asylum seekers will be created as a matter of urgency.
Photo: Screenshot from BFMTV

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