This is another big social project of the quinquennium, announced in September 2018 by Emmanuel Macron. The head of state wants “a great social protection law and the fight against poverty”. Fifteen months later, we begin to have a precise idea of what will be the future universal income from activity (RUA), which must come into application in 2023.
It is a unique service which must replace, by simplifying and merging them, all or part of existing social and solidarity aid. In the viewfinder: the active solidarity income (RSA), the minimum old age, the specific solidarity allowance, personalized housing assistance (APL), the disabled adult allowance, but also the activity bonus… In all , ten services which weigh 60 billion euros per year. About 15 million people will be affected.
The citizen consultation on the RUA – in particular via the online consultation which mobilized 8100 participants -, which aims to establish the scope of the reform, ended at the end of December. Here is the balance sheet.
Two essential objectives
“Without this aid, the number of people living below the poverty line would drop from 9 million to 14 million,” insists Fabrice Lenglart, the general rapporteur for the reform of the RUA. The idea is therefore to improve the efficiency of the devices. With a double objective: “reduce non-recourse, which reaches for example 30% for active solidarity income, and guarantee that the resumption of an activity pays”.
A tapering brick wall
64% of votes on the Internet are in favor of unifying aid. This is the objective of the RUA which will appear as a unique service. But it will compile several aids, like so many stacking bricks: a base for people without resources, a supplement for housing, a supplement for the over 65s …
“The reduction in benefits will be gradual, predicts Frédéric Lenglart. No brick can begin to fall before the top one is gone. It is a question of instituting a “controlled degression” to avoid the danger of sudden ruptures and threshold effects.
This simplification also aims to promote the return to employment. “A person who finds a job, even part-time, should not lose more in benefits than what he will earn in wages,” summarizes the rapporteur.
Simplified calculation method
If Internet users are very divided on the subject, the RUA project is well oriented, for the calculation of all rights, towards taking into account the income of the whole household. With the exception of the disabled adult allowance, the AAH, which is subject to considerable friction.
On the other hand, the harmonization of calculation methods is popular (74% of voters). “Our system has been built over time by stacking complexities to the point of being unreadable. Social assistance is means-tested, it can be gross income, net income, or even categorical net income “, deplores Frédéric Lenglart.
Finally, 74% of online voters support the rapporteur’s idea of taking into account the most recent income, to match the needs of the beneficiary.
A wider scope and counterparts
The initial basic scenario provided for the merger of three services: RSA, activity premium and APL. However, concerted action revealed a majority (73%) in favor of expanding this base. 18-24 year olds, for example, where the poverty rate reaches 24%, should benefit from the RUA via the RSA “brick”. Aid for the elderly, in particular the minimum retirement age, will also be included in the RUA.
On an equal basis, the reform must be carried out at constant cost. The amounts remain to be defined, but should vary little.
Finally, as a “safety net” against poverty, a minimum amount will be set: the RUA basement. In return for the RUA, people without work will have to embark on a career path. But only 43% of voters are in favor.
During the last presidential campaign, the PS candidate Benoît Hamon defended the idea of a universal living income, the RUE. The idea was to guarantee a minimum income for everyone without conditions.
Should be eligible, any person from 18 years old, retired, destitute, or earning less than 1.9 times the minimum wage, or 2,185 euros net. The amount announced was 600 euros gross. 19 million French people were to receive it.