Reader question: I heard benefits in France will be paid out by the Caf offices ‘automatically’ now. What is changing and who is affected?
The Connexion recently highlighted a change to French payslips during our look ahead to July 2023.
This change is the first in a series of steps to improve access to certain benefits for those eligible as it is estimated that up to €10 billion of benefits go unclaimed every year.
The benefits concerned are payments made monthly by the Caisse d’allocations familiales (Caf) including the income top-up benefit for working-age people - revenu de solidarité active (RSA) - and the prime d’activité bonus for working people on modest incomes.
A number of departments are trialling new systems aimed at making payment of these more ‘automatic’ before an expected nationwide rollout at a future point.
Some benefits paid for by the Caf are already paid automatically (allocation de rentrée scolaire, prime de Noël, etc) but these are one-off payments and will not see any changes.
Changes introduced in July 2023 mean that all French payslips must now introduce a montant net social (net social amount) line which corresponds to all forms of payment from your employer, minus the social charges due on these.
It is this figure that is used to calculate whether a person is eligible for certain benefits such as prime d’activité or RSA.
As the exact amount to declare is now shown on your payslip you do not have to do any calculations yourself.
How does this change affect the payments of benefits?
The latest change is a move towards ‘pre-declarations’ by Caf, aimed at simplifying the current process whereby people have to apply for the benefits and then continue to confirm eligibility every three months by declaring their montant net social.
Those who are eligible to continue benefiting will be automatically sent a pre-filled declaration that they will just have to validate.
The information for the pre-filled declaration will be collected via a dispositif de ressources mensuelles (DRM), a database relating to the monthly income of those in France who may be eligible for benefits. It will now automatically be updated with the montant net social from work each month.
Currently, 17 departments and one metropolitan area are trialling the system:
- Métropole de Lyon
- Le Réunion
Seine-Saint-Denis was part of the trial but withdrew.
There is currently no confirmed date for when the system will roll out nationwide.
As a reminder, Britons with a Brexit Withdrawal Agreement card are eligible to receive RSA and prime d’activité without having to fulfil the usual requirement for non-EU foreign people of having held a residency card allowing work for at least five years (holders of a carte de résident card are also eligible).
Other criteria of both RSA and prime d’activité include being below certain low-income thresholds and living in France.