Will the RSA Reform be a New Social Bomb for the Government?

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Will the RSA reform be a new social bomb for the government?

SOCIAL SUPPORT: The government wants to condition the payment of the RSA to the achievement of 15 to 20 hours of activities per week

  • Elisabeth Borne will meet, this Tuesday and Wednesday, the leaders of the five main unions at Matignon.
  • They will discuss the reform of the RSA, which plans to condition the payment of aid to 15 to 20 hours of integration or training activities per week.
  • A project that already bristles unions and associations fighting against precariousness. They believe that this future text risks stigmatizing RSA beneficiaries.

Pension reform is not the only explosive subject between the unions and the government. This Tuesday and Wednesday, Élisabeth Borne will receive the five main unions (CFDT, CGT, FO, CFE-CGC, CFTC) at Matignon to renew the dialogue, and the latter have planned to put the reform of the Active Solidarity Income on the table. (RSA). Because the “Full employment” bill that the government will present by June provides for the establishment of a system of counterparties for the beneficiaries of the RSA.

The idea is to ask them to commit to following an “intensive course” of training or integration of 15 to 20 hours per week. It will not be about “free work, nor compulsory volunteering, it is about being accompanied to find a job, to train, to discover trades, sometimes simply to reconnect with the world of work” , said the Minister of Labor, Olivier Dussopt, in Figaro at the end of April. The government also launched last month an experiment of the reform in 18 departments. The ambition is to extend it gradually to generalize it at the start of 2027.

The philosophy of the reform criticized

This reform, the government justifies it by its will to improve the professional integration of the beneficiaries of the RSA. In a report published in January 2022, the Court of Auditors revealed that one in two beneficiaries did not sign a reciprocal commitment contract and that 17% of them had no follow-up. “In total, seven years after the entry into the RSA of a cohort of recipients, only 34% have left it and are in employment – ​​and among these, only a third is in stable employment”, added the wise.

But the very spirit of the reform arouses an outcry. In a press release published on Monday, the inter-union reaffirms its opposition to “the conditionality of access to the RSA”, described as a measure of “social regression”. Several associations for the defence of the most precarious and left-wing personalities have also spoken out against it. Reactions deciphered by sociologist François-Xavier Merrien, who has conducted studies with RSA beneficiaries in Gers and Burgundy: “This reform insinuates the idea that the beneficiaries would be poor volunteers, having chosen to live on social assistance. While these are often low-skilled people, alternating periods of work (with precarious jobs) and unemployment. Or people who have had an accident in life: economic redundancy, health problem, marital breakdown…”

Macron’s remarks on the beneficiaries of the RSA have tensed

During his interview on TF1 and France 2 at the end of March, Emmanuel Macron had also opposed the employees to the recipients of social minima: “Many workers say: “you are asking us for effort (but) there are people who do not work Never ” “. This had provoked indignant reactions from associations fighting against precariousness. “It’s a populist discourse that aims to create an alliance with part of the middle classes,” said François-Xavier Merrien.

According to Benoit Reboul-Salze, ATD Fourth World national delegate, increased stigmatization of RSA beneficiaries could have cascading effects: “This reform also risks dissuading some people from applying for the RSA. This would further worsen the rate of non-use of this aid, which is 34%. With more very poor people as a result.

Penalties that do not pass

Another point criticized: the bill provides that the RSA may be temporarily suspended, in whole or in part, when the beneficiary refuses “without legitimate reason” to draw up his employment contract. A measure that Benoit Reboul-Salze criticizes: “The logic of the carrot and the stick will not help the beneficiaries advance. And it risks causing an increase in over-indebted people and people on the street”. In a press release published on Monday, the National Union of Communal Centers for Social Action (Unccas) believes that “coercive measures risk further stigmatizing RSA beneficiaries and discouraging them in their efforts to find a job”.

Finally, the feasibility of this reform is questioned. “The government wants to present its bill in June while the experiments are due to end in December 2023”, first underlines Benoit Reboul-Salze. Questions also arise about the resources that will be allocated to this reform: “Registering beneficiaries with France Travail and offering them personalized follow-up will require the recruitment of a large number of advisers”, underlines François-Xavier Merrien. Offering 15 to 20 hours of activity to 2 million people also seems complex: “That represents 30 million hours of activity per week to find. It seems impossible,” said Benoit Reboul-Salze. The possibility for each beneficiary to honour his appointments with his adviser also seems difficult to him: “What will happen to people living in the countryside without means of transport, or to those who will not be able to have their children looked after? “.

Still, despite the risk of strong friction on the subject with unions and charities, it should not bring many people to the streets. “There will be no major demonstrations around this subject, because it only affects a small fringe of the population, unlike pensions”, anticipates François-Xavier Merrien.

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