Energy, Linky, post: Thirteen changes affecting life in France in 2023

We look at gas and electricity price caps, how digital postage will work and more

Gas price cap will rise from January 1; Linky refusal will attract fines; codes to replace stamps

Gas and electricity prices

Electricity prices for people on EDF’s tarif bleu ‘regulated’ prices (around 70% of households), or contracts linked to it, are to rise on February 1 as the current 4% price shield is raised to a 15% rise.

This will mean a rise of about €20/month for people who heat with electricity. It would have been around €180 without a shield.

Regulated gas prices – affecting around three million homes – rise from January 1 and will also be capped at a 15% increase.

These caps will affect “all households, blocks of flats, social housing, small companies and smaller municipalities”.

Note that households on regulated gas contracts can only benefit from these until July 1, 2023, when this scheme ends for gas. All contracts will then become market-rate ones.

Customers will be able to stay with Engie (former GDF Suez) or change. A comparison tool is available here.

The government says that consumers will not be required to pay more to compensate for the energy price shields in 2024.

Read more: Could second home owners in France save with EDF’s Tempo contract?

Digital postage

La Poste has stopped selling its timbre rouge red stamp.

It is replaced with a digital e-lettre rouge costing €1.49 – compared to €1.43 for the previous version.

It allows customers to send a document of up to three pages through a website before 20:00 to have it printed and distributed the next day. The price includes the paper and envelope.

Users will write a letter online or take a photo or scan of a letter or other document to attach.

Anyone who cannot use the internet will be able to visit a post office to have a letter scanned in.

Old stamps can still be used.

Later in the year, an alternative is also planned. This will make it possible to pay online and obtain a code you can write in the corner of an envelope that will replace a stamp (at ‘red’ next-day rate or slower timbre vert).

Read more: La Poste to launch digital stamps in 2023: How will they work?

New nutriscore labelling

The nutriscore ‘traffic light’ label shown on many foods has been re­vamped to more closely align with current health recommendations.

It will give higher ratings to foods that are not highly processed and have no added sugar or salt.

Oily fish will be more highly valued, as well as lean white meats and unsaturated fats such as olive, rapeseed and walnut oils.

A high sugar or saturated fat content will be treated more severely.

As before, foods can be labelled from A (most balanced) to E (to eat in moderation).

Letterbox labels

Trials of an ‘opt-in’ version of letterbox labels for publicity material are being expanded.

This has already been tested in 11 areas. Parts of the country which will join the ‘Oui Pub’ scheme in February include Corsica and the cities of Troyes and Dunkerque and surrounding areas.

The idea is that not receiving unsolicited publicity fliers and advertising sheets should be the default unless you opt in, rather than the other way round, as currently used with letterbox labels refusing such material.

Read more: Supermarkets in France to send fewer paper promo catalogues

Childcare help

More help with childcare is planned in the social security finance law for 2023.

Single-parent families will be able to obtain CMG childcare aid until children start secondary school, as opposed to until age six.

ASF money from Caf in the case of the other parent failing to pay support money will be increased from a minimum €123 to €185/month.

Aid for families using a childminder will be reviewed to ensure they have no more left to pay out of pocket than if the child was in a crèche.

Care staff recruitment

Care homes will be allocated 3,000 extra nurses and care assistants in 2023 in the first phase of a plan to recruit 50,000 extra staff by 2027.

A further 4,000 people are to be recruited in the home-help sector. As part of a review of the latter, a minimum charge of €23/hour will be set.

Linky smart meters

People who refuse installation of a Linky smart meter at their property after January 2023 will have to pay an extra €50 per year unless they send their energy readings in.

This is said to be due to the extra cost of checking if this is not done.

Bill payments at tabacs

A scheme is to start to allow people to pay for gas, electricity, water, telephone and social housing rent bills at local tabacs.

La Française des jeux (FDJ) is to launch Nirio across participating shops.

You will scan your bill or rent receipt using the Nirio smartphone app and this will give a payment QR code to present.

Read more: Tabac shops in France will soon accept payment for utility bills

Since July 2020, FDJ has enabled people to pay taxes of less than €300, as well as fines, and local public service bills (crèche, canteen, hospital, etc.) in partner stores.

Sustainable food aid

A national fund for ‘sustainable’ food aid projects is being set up, initially with €60million, to help vulnerable people access good quality, locally-produced food.

More details of how the money will be spent are expected during the year.

Forest cemetery

A dedicated ‘forest cemetery’ is opening this year in Muttersholtz, Alsace, inspired by similar projects in Germany.

Families will be able to have their loved ones’ urns buried at the foot of a tree, with a plaque placed on the tree.

Power cut alerts

There are warnings of potential programmed two-hour power cuts in January if the system comes under high strain.

An EcoWatt app can provide alerts. Details of specific areas affected will be known the night before.

See also the websites of network operators Enedis and RTE.

Read more: Power cut risk remains in France but the ‘worst has been avoided’

Warranty insurance

The cooling-off period for people buying extended warranty insurance for equipment is now 30 days instead of 15.

Marketing call restrictions

Marketing calls and texts now have to be sent from numbers starting with 09, and not from ordinary mobile phone numbers using 06 or 07.

From March 1, commercial marketing calls should not be made on weekends or bank holidays, nor before 10:00 or after 20:00.

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