1. Regulated gas tariffs and price protections to end
Regulated gas tariffs – where the price is set and controlled by the French state – will end on June 30.
Households on a regulated gas tariff (tarifs réglementés de vente, or TRV) will be required to sign up for a commercial contract, either with Engie or another contract provider.
Those still on a TRV after June 30 will be automatically switched to an offre passerelle d’Engie (‘bridging offer’), without losing access to their gas supply.
Users can then stay on this offer (which is not available for other users to sign up for) and at any time switch to another contract either with Engie or another supplier.
The Commission de Régulation d’Energie (CRE) said they will provide monthly data on gas prices in France, to help consumers understand if their contract is beneficial or not.
The gas version of the ‘energy shield’, implemented to limit gas bills rising above 15%, will also end on July 1 – but with the falling price of gas, is essentially unused at the moment.
“In the event of a very sharp rise in prices, the government has indicated that it may have to put in place a tariff shield again,” said Céline Regnault, director of consumer affairs at Engie.
2. New-look French payslips
French payslips will have a new heading entitled Montant net social from July 1.
This heading (translated as net social amount in English), will show an employee’s net income after social security deductions have been made by their employer.
This amount is used to calculate eligibility for social benefits such as the Revenu de solidarité active (RSA) or the prime d'activité, but can sometimes be difficult to understand on current payslips.
Instead of having to calculate the amount themselves, people will now be able to bring their payslips directly to the Caisse d’allocations familiales or Mutualité sociale agricole, to show they are eligible for the benefits.
It is the beginning of wider reforms aimed at increasing the number of people successfully receiving the benefits they are eligible for.
3. Tax refund or more to pay?
People in France will likely find out in July whether they have to pay more tax or are owed a tax refund.
That follows their income declarations for 2022, which were made in May or early June.
Although those who declared online were already given an estimate of their situation, official confirmation will come via the avis d’impôt sent to households this summer.
From July 26 to August 4, however, this information will be available to see online through your personal space on impots.gouv.fr – and those who requested a paper copy will receive it between July 26 and August 30.
If you are lucky enough to be getting a tax refund, it is likely the money will be sent to your account next month – in 2022, rebates were sent between July 21 and August 1. Make sure tax authorities have your correct bank account details.
For those who have additional tax to pay, information on how to do so can be found in our article below.
4. Small pay rise for civil servants
Civil servants in France are set to receive a 1.5% pay rise from July 1, although unions have argued the amount should be higher.
On top of the pay rise, around 800,000 lower-paid civil servants (who make less than €3,250 gross per month) will receive a one-off (pre-tax) bonus of between €300 and €800.
On top of this, certain allowances – such as expenses for hotels and food when on business trips, and public transport passes – have been increased, although this does not affect all staff.
Civil servant unions wanted a pay rise that matched the 3.5% offered in 2022 – due to the rates of inflation seen so far in 2023 – and warned that services may start to diminish in quality if positions are seen as less attractive than the private sector.
The pay rise and bonuses are set to cost the state around €3.5 billion in the latter half of 2023, and €6 billion in 2024.
5. New deadline for property extension form
France’s biens immobiliers property declaration – mandatory for all homeowners in France – has a new deadline.
Originally scheduled for June 30, it has been pushed back one month, with a new deadline of July 31, 2023.
Several reasons for the pushback were given, including:
The lack of respondents so far (only around 50% of homeowners have completed the form, says the tax authorities)
The high volume of people completing the form in the run-up to the June deadline
The backlog of messages regarding the declaration for civil servants to reply to
6. Repair bonus increase
Changes to the bonus réparation – which encourages people to repair old goods at certified repair points – will see an increase in the aid made available.
More products will be covered by the bonus (which requires repairs over a certain amount of money) and the amount of money handed out will be doubled.
The bonus for small electronic devices (like hairdryers) will jump from €10 to €20, and for larger more expensive items (like computers), increase from €45 to €90.
The ministry also wants to increase the number of shops included in the scheme – currently, Boulanger and E.Leclerc have signed up, but the government wants FNAC, Darty, and Apple to also get involved.
The scheme only applies in cases where there is no warranty or insurance on the item in question – which must have been purchased in France by a private individual – and it is deducted automatically at the till when paying for the repair.
7. Non-SEPA banks can no longer receive benefits
A number of benefits payments will no longer be available to banks outside of the SEPA zone, as the government seeks to tackle welfare fraud.
The SEPA – Single Euro Payments Area – zone is a banking initiative for smoother payments and covers all countries in the EU, as well as Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, the European microstates, and the UK.
Benefit payments – including the Allocation de Solidarité aux Personnes Agées (ASPA), RSA, the Allocation Supplémentaire d'Invalidité and various family allowances – to a bank outside of one of these countries will no longer be possible after June 30.
Pension payments will not be affected by the changes, however, and can still be sent to any bank.
Another change to family benefits will require those who receive payments to reside in France for at least nine months of the year – previously, only six months were required.
8. Unemployment benefits increase by 1.9%
Benefits for unemployed people in France are set to increase by 1.9% for the second time this year.
After an exceptional 1.9% increase in April, a reassessment has led to a second increase of the same amount during the usual period for readjustment of the payment.
The confédération générale du travail (CGT), one of France’s largest unions, called the increases “completely insufficient,” saying they do not match inflation levels.
They say the benefits increase should at least match the year-on-year inflation of 5.1% recorded in May.
A 25% reduction rate in the length of unemployment benefits was already implemented this February.
9. Restrictions on plastic packaging of fresh foods
A new decree limiting the sale of fruit and vegetables in plastic packaging will come into force from July 1.
Aside from 29 listed exemptions, and items sold in batches weighing over 1.5kgs, plastic can no longer be used to sell fruit, which must be presented loose or in eco-friendly packaging.
Exemptions are mostly for fruit that would be easily damaged if sold loose, including carrots, endives, mushrooms, most types of berries, herbs, spinach, edible flowers, and sprouted seeds.
There is also an exception for fruits sold ‘ripe’ or ready-to-eat, where the packaging indicates this (and where they can sometimes be sold loose to ripen at home).
You can find the full list here.