A SWATHE of new decrees has just come into force, with a potential impact on people’s pockets.
As is traditional, July is a month of financial increases – for benefits but also for some of the household bills. This comes as several of the government’s new measures also come into play.
On the plus point for workers was the increase in the Smic minimum wage , which has gone up by 2%, or €21.50 per month after social charges. Unemployment benefit (which varies according to what you were earning before) has also been increased 2%, with the daily minimum now being €28.21.
Social charges on dividends and interest have gone up from 13.5% to 15.5% (though tax-free accounts like Livret As are not affected).
It is now obligatory to carry an unused breath test in your car while driving in France – it is recommended to carry two in case of the use of one – although the €11 fine for not doing so will not be enforced until November.
If you are caught by a speed camera in Belgium you will now get a fine at home in France – after an agreement came in between Belgium and France (ones already exist with Switzerland and Luxembourg).
The planned ban on neon signs at night between 1.00 and 6.00 is now in force for new installations apart from in France’s largest cities (Paris and Marseille).
There is one month’s respite before electricity tariffs go up in August. This is due to an increase in the contribution au service public de l’électricité (CSPE) to €10.50/MWh - a levy which has already risen sharply in recent years, from €4.5 from 2005 to 2010, to €7.5 in 2011 and €9 in the first half of 2012.
It makes up about 8% of the bill and is meant to help EDF cover certain expenses, like supplying some of the less accessible overseas territories and providing a subsidised low tariff for low-income homes and developing renewable energies.
As for gas prices – a possible imminent increase is still uncertain. GDF Suez has demanded a 5% rise to compensate increases in its costs. However the government is considering prolonging a price freeze brought in under the last government last year.
On the plus side, the prices of stamps and train and Metro tickets, which usually go up in July, remain the same. If there are rises to come, they will be in September.
What is more, it is now cheaper to receive or make mobile phone calls to other EU countries, with a new ceiling of 29 centimes per minute for making calls (as opposed to 35) and 8 centimes for receiving them (as opposed to 11).
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