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Jobless benefits set to face cuts

France to rethink job seekers’ allowances – which are the most generous in Europe

JOBSEEKERS in France will receive less money and have to get back to work sooner as the government plans to reduce what are some of Europe’s most generous benefits.

By 2016, unions and employers will have to discuss ways of making jobseekers more responsible and getting them back to work quicker, said Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

He added that questions should be asked about the level and length of unemployment benefits when France has a record 3,413,000 out of work.

Its jobseekers’ allowances can offer up to €6,624 per month for up to two years, compared to the UK where jobseekers can expect a maximum of around €612 a month for no more than six months.

However, French jobseekers’ union, the Mouvement National des Chômeurs et Précaires, reacted saying: “Stories of jobless people getting €6,000 a month are just that, stories. The reality is thousands of people who are living below the poverty level on €900 a month.”

A survey by news magazine Nouvel Observateur showed France has one of the most generous jobless benefits systems in Europe.

A jobseeker has to work for only four months before receiving benefits, compared to two years in the UK and Italy or a year in Germany.

Only Sweden is more lenient, asking for just three months but its unemployment benefit is just €2,430 a month.

Germany offers a maximum of €2,300 and Italy €1,700.

French jobseekers are entitled to benefits for up to two years (depending on length of time worked) - or up to three years if they are aged over 50 - compared to 12 months in Germany, 300 days in Sweden, eight months in Italy and six in the UK.

Only the Netherlands offer benefits for longer, up to 38 months.

The UK offers a set amount of dole money but most European benefits are based on previous salary – with 57.4%-75% of pay in France and 80% in Sweden (although this is reduced to 70% after 200 days).

Italy offers a decreasing percentage of salary from 60%, whereas Germany offers 67% rather than the basic 60% to those with children.

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