France: the government's new poverty plan largely disappoints associations

After having repeatedly rejected it, the French government presented its poverty plan on Monday, September 18. Despite measures against child poverty, emergency accommodation places and aid for the return to work, the associations remain hungry. They mainly denounce a lack of ambition and the short-term vision, without structural work, on poverty in France.

A person drops off an item in a Food Banks bag during the National Food Bank Collection in the Carrefour shopping centre, in Lormont, southwest France, November 25, 2022. AFP - MEHDI FEDOUACH

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From postponement to postponement, associations fighting poverty had been waiting for the government's new plan for eight months. Elisabeth Borne presented them with the long-awaited measures on Monday during a meeting in Matignon. "For housing, for health, for access to education or employment, sometimes even for food, poverty is a daily challenge for all those who face it," commented the Prime Minister.

Prevention of poverty from childhood, return to employment, fight against exclusion and measures to ensure that the ecological transition does not weigh too heavily on the most disadvantaged, the "Pact of Solidarity" is divided into four main axes. This new plan must be endowed with a "50% increase in appropriations dedicated to the fight against poverty compared to the previous strategy", said the Prime Minister. Launched in 2018, the previous plan was endowed with 8 billion euros over four years. It should be noted that the government is planning specific measures for the overseas territories, which are particularly affected by poverty.

Among the measures already announced, and which appear in the pact, the creation of a "colo pass" for CM2 children and the creation of 200,000 crèche places by 2030 aim to fight poverty in childhood. To this end, the government also plans to continue distributing free breakfasts in some schools. "Our model must allow social ascension and I have one conviction: it is through work that we get by," said Elisabeth Borne.

Measures, such as the planned creation in 2025 of a business resumption bonus, also aim to promote the return to employment. The maintenance of the 203,000 existing emergency shelter places is also part of the pact, as is the second five-year "Housing First" plan, whose objective is to support homeless people in housing.

The associations expected much more

Scalded by the various postponements of a text that was initially to be presented last January, the associations were divided in the face of the strategy presented. "Measures respond to the urgency linked to galloping inflation, but we do not see how this strategy will succeed in reducing poverty," Noam Leandri, president of the Alerte collective, which brings together 34 anti-poverty associations, told AFP. "We think it's not enough.



Honestly, I am very disappointed because I really feel that they have not taken the measure of the challenge of the fight against poverty and extreme poverty in our country, said the president of ATD Fourth World, Marie-Aleth Grard. Because in fact, it's developing things that already exist, but a little bit more. ». The figures put forward by the government do not satisfy her at all: "When we say that we are going to identify 50,000 young people, it is not 50,000 young people who have left the school system, but a million and a half in our country. It is not up to par. »

We hope that full employment will eradicate poverty, except that extreme poverty in France is increasing and worsening.


Véronique Devise, president of Secours Catholique, deplores the government's lack of knowledge about poverty

Small gestures but no structural measures

No structural measures have been announced to satisfy the associations. Such as the revaluation of social minima for those who are most affected by inflation, which is what the associations demanded. For the president of the Federation of Solidarity Actors (FAS), Pascal Brice, the account is not there: "There has been no announcement to get out of the social housing crisis. There is a capacity to be in the long term on emergency accommodation issues, it is really positive for 2023, but what we will have to fight again next year.


Small gestures, but never really enough. "There are elements that are useful, but whether for people, for associations, I told the Prime Minister again that we were extremely fragile and in a very structural way, there are still battles to be fought."

Poverty affects 9.2 million people, or nearly 15% of the French population according to INSEE. The poverty line is set at 60% of the median standard of living of the population. More than one in 10 people cut back on heating, food, various products and services. In this context, also marked by high inflation, requests are pouring in from food aid distributors, leading associations to the brink of rupture, such as the Restos du Cœur who raised a cry of alarm in early September. The next meeting between the players in the sector and the government will take place in early 2024, Matignon announced.

Read alsoWhy and how to rethink poverty?

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  • France
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