Bonus for returning to work, maintaining temporary accommodation places, free breakfasts at school… After eight months of successive delays, the government unveiled this Monday its new strategy to combat poverty, which is especially awaited by associations that remain partially unsatisfied.
“Whether it’s housing, health, access to education or employment, and sometimes even food, poverty is a daily challenge for all who face it,” Prime Minister Elizabeth Bourne commented during a speech presenting the plan to association leaders. The new anti-poverty program, which expands on some measures compared to the previous plan on this issue, is designed to “respond to the severity of the current social situation” and “correct structural inequalities,” she explained in the presence of many ministers.
Preventing childhood poverty, returning to work, combating isolation and ensuring that the ecological transition does not place too heavy a burden on the most disadvantaged: the Solidarity Pact is divided into four main areas. However, many measures were announced earlier.
This new plan should include “a 50 percent increase in anti-poverty loans compared to the previous strategy,” the prime minister also indicated. The previous plan, launched in 2018, provided 8 billion euros over four years. Please note that the Government is planning specific measures for the Overseas Territories, which are particularly affected by poverty.
Burnt by various delays in considering the text, which was originally due to be presented last January, the associations are divided on the strategy presented. “The measures are a response to the emergency of runaway inflation, but we do not see how this strategy will help reduce poverty,” commented Noam Leandri, president of the Alerte collective, which brings together 34 associations fighting poverty. “We think this is not enough. »
The government has already planned to bring together sector players in early 2024 during a “permanent solidarity conference” to take stock of the issue, Matignon said late Monday in a press release.
“We succeed through work”
Among the already announced measures that appear in the pact, the creation of a “kolo pass” for CM2 children and the creation of 200,000 kindergartens by 2030 are aimed at combating child poverty. To this end, the government also plans to continue the distribution of free breakfasts in selected schools.
“Our model must ensure social development, and I have one belief: we achieve this only through work,” said Elizabeth Born. Measures such as the planned introduction of a return-to-work bonus in 2025 are aimed at encouraging a return to work.
Maintaining the 203,000 existing temporary accommodation places is also part of the pact, as is the second five-year Housing First plan, which aims to support homeless people in finding housing.
Lack of assistance for social minimums: “cold shower”
Measures that go “in the right direction” but are considered “largely insufficient” by anti-precarity associations, which call for, among other things, an increase in social minimums, an increase in housing assistance (APL) and the regularization of undocumented workers. sectors under pressure. “The lack of an increase in social minimums is a cold shower,” Noam Leandri emphasized.
Measures such as continuing the distribution of energy vouchers to the poorest people or strengthening the MaPrimeRenov system complete this plan.
According to INSEE, 9.2 million people, or almost 15% of the French population, suffer from poverty. The poverty line is set at 60% of the average standard of living of the population. More than one in 10 people save on heating, food, and various products and services. In this context, which is also characterized by high inflation, requests are pouring in from food aid distributors, bringing associations to the brink of collapse, such as the Restos du Cœur, which raised a cry of alarm in early September.