Economy "Our" minimum youth "aims to reach out to drowning...

“Our” minimum youth “aims to reach out to drowning young people”, explains Boris Vallaud

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Distribution of food aid by the association COP1 to students in precarious situations, January 29, 2021 in Paris (illustration) – Louise MERESSE / SIPA

  • The deputies examine, this Thursday in the hemicycle of the National Assembly, several texts submitted by the Socialist group. On the agenda, a proposal for a law co-written by Boris Vallaud aimed at establishing a “minimum youth”.
  • The elected representative of the Landes proposes in particular to merge the RSA and the activity bonus to create a “basic income” accessible from 18 years against 25 years today for the RSA. Rejected by the LREM-MoDem majority, the text should be rejected, but Boris Vallaud wants this proposal to be taken up in the context of the next presidential election.
  • “Every night, everyone sees young people lining up in front of food banks and sinking into poverty. It hurts in the stomach and there is something to be revolted, declares the deputy, who rules out any risk of dissuasive effect of the measure on the job search.

“Society does not want to let the youth down. “On the strength of this conviction, and while questions related to a universal income arouse more and more interest among political leaders due to the economic and social crisis linked to the coronavirus epidemic, the Socialist deputies have registered on the agenda of the National Assembly, this Thursday, their proposal to create a “minimum youth”.

Defended in particular by Boris Vallaud, deputy of Landes and co-author of the text, it aims in particular to reform the RSA and the activity bonus to give birth to a “basic income” accessible from 18 years, against 25 years today for the RSA. The text also provides for the establishment of a universal endowment of 5,000 euros to allow each young person to finance training or the creation of a business, for example. “It would be serious if, this Thursday, the national representation is not at the rendezvous of this act of fraternity”, warns Boris Vallaud in an interview with 20 Minutes.

Boris Vallaud has been a PS deputy for the Landes since 2017.

You propose the establishment of a “minimum youth”. Has public perception changed on these questions of universal income, notably led by Benoît Hamon during the 2017 presidential election?

I think that everyone has before their eyes, to experience it directly or to witness it, the violence of the social crisis that we are going through. Every night, everyone sees young people lining up in front of food banks and sinking into poverty. It hurts in the stomach and there is something to be revolted. Faced with this brutal reality, the perception has indeed changed. Society does not want to let the youth down. A poll published on Monday showed that 68% of French people were in favor of extending the RSA to those under 25 *. From now on, there is little more than the majority and the government to be opposed to it …

Our “minimum youth” proposal therefore aims to reach out to drowning young people, to help them get out of this crisis but also to invent a future for themselves. I would add that the bill also aims to make the payment of this “basic income” compulsory for all those who are entitled to it. We will therefore catch up to 25% of people who are entitled to RSA but do not receive it because they do not know their rights. Fraternity and solidarity must not remain words but must be translated into political acts.

This bill, as you recalled in committee in the Assembly, is the fruit of several years of work by the Socialist Group. It seems to make sense today …

It is actually the continuation of work carried out by 19 socialist departments which, more than three years ago, had proposed to experiment with such a basic income. The majority had brushed aside our proposal without debate. When we saw this pandemic break out, we immediately understood that two categories of the population would suffer the most: young people and people in precarious situations. We therefore resumed work at the time of the first confinement, with in particular an online consultation in partnership with the Parliament & Citizens association, which ended in mid-January.

Your “minimum youth” project would necessarily constitute additional public expenditure. How to finance them?

A number of documentary studies show that the cost of poverty is greater than the costs of anti-poverty policies. This bill is an investment in the future, the overall cost of which, which we estimate at 20 billion per year at most, will be beneficial to society as a whole. Everyone lives better in a more equal world.

We have identified several avenues to finance this “minimum youth”, in particular the taxation of multinationals which today do not pay their taxes or a tax on very large inheritances which consist in the transmission of an annuity.

“No study in the world has made a link between this type of aid and the search for a job”, underlines Boris Vallaud.

One of the main criticisms of your project concerns the risk of setting up a form of “assistantship”. How do you respond to this review?

We want to address this concern with facts. Esther Duflo, Nobel laureate in economics in 2019, who has been working for years on poverty, recalled again this week that no study in the world has made a link between this type of aid and the search for a job **. Everyone wants to work, especially young people, who want a quality job that has meaning. We must therefore walk on two legs: lead the battle for youth employment and have social support. Our “minimum youth” is supported by a support system for beneficiaries which must be of high level. We are called upon to emerge from the health crisis, but also to change the model.

Your bill was rejected in committee and should be rejected this Thursday in the National Assembly. Would you like this proposal for a basic income to be on the program of the candidate who will be supported by the PS in 2022?

Yes, of course I wish, and I think it will. But I stress that the purpose of our proposal is not to oppose us at all costs to the government and the majority. I tell them: “Let’s do this together for our youth! It would be serious if, this Thursday, the national representation is not at the rendezvous of this act of brotherhood.

* EcoScope OpinionWay-Square survey for Les Echos and Classic Radio conducted online on February 10 and 11, 2021 with a representative sample of 1,002 people representative of the French population aged 18 and over.

** On France Inter, the economist said Monday: “No study in the world or in France shows that an insured income, like the RSA, has a demobilizing effect. We never really saw that. Either there are few effects, negative or positive, on resumption of employment […]or, when we find effects, they tend to be positive. “

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