Five questions on the "universal income of activity" announced by Emmanuel Macron

Formerly presented under the name of "social single payment", this future social benefit gathers colossal stakes. Explanations.
 | 14.09.2018 at 21:14
 • Updated
14.09.2018 at 21:28

By Adrien Sénécat

                                                                                                                Eleven years after the creation of the active solidarity income (RSA), a new "universal income of activity" will be born in 2020. This is one of the announcements made by Emmanuel Macron when he presented his " poverty plan ", Thursday 13 September. While the contours of this measure are still to be clarified, this is a large-scale project, which should concern millions of beneficiaries and which already raises many questions. Here is what we know for the moment.

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1. What does Emmanuel Macron propose?
Income paid automatically under income and "activity" conditions
The head of state presented the "universal income of activity" as an aid "which merges the greatest possible number of benefits, and of which the State will be entirely responsible". The idea is that many social benefits will be combined into one, paid in one go. The future single allocation could come into existence in 2020, knowing that this is a large-scale project: today, the various social benefits are managed by different organizations, each of which manages the beneficiaries' files. , with often different rules. The unification of social assistance therefore also implies harmonizing these conditions and creating a "one-stop-shop" to centralize requests and ensure payments afterwards.
The big news for the recipients of this income is that they will be able to receive it automatically as soon as their income "falls below a certain threshold".
It will be conditional on "homework" on the part of the beneficiaries: there will be a "registration requirement in an insertion path, which prevents refusing more than two reasonable offers of employment or activity contained in his contract "Said the head of state.
Emmanuel Macron did not specify the envisaged amount of this income, but he said he wished he could "allow everyone to live decently".

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2. Which services will be affected?
A list to be defined, but which should contain social minima and more specific help
Emmanuel Macron did not detail the list of the merged aid, simply said want to meet "the largest number of social benefits, RSA APL." The Minister of Solidarity and Health, Agnès Buzyn, said on France Inter Friday that there would be a consultation "in the next six months" to define the list of allocations and "what will be [it]" the universal income of activity in itself.
The question is complex because there are dozens of social benefits in different spheres today: aid to health, family, the purchase of energy, employment, farmers, people in situation of disability, asylum seekers, student grants … They are paid by multitudes of organizations and are not all national. Traditionally, there are two sets:
the ten social minimums (active solidarity income, allowance for disabled adults, solidarity allowance for the elderly, etc.), which are not intended for the same population groups, are paid to 4.8 million people to enable them to to have a minimum of resources for living, social protection as a whole, which includes more specific aids and benefits, in a broad sense, to the entire population. Emmanuel Macron mentioned the LPAs in his speech, his universal income from This activity would thus not only cover social minima, but also benefits which hitherto concerned wider audiences.

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3. Will there be "losers"?
Yes, unless you invest much more in social protection
It is impossible to quantify for now the cost of the future universal income of activity without knowing the precise modalities. Will it be an income with a single or variable amount depending on different parameters? And for what amounts? What will be the ceiling of resources to benefit from it? These are all crucial questions to understand the issues of reform.
On the other hand, it is known that paying social benefits automatically, and thus putting an end to non-recourse, has a cost. Just for the RSA, it would be in billions of euros. It is estimated today that at least 30% of potential beneficiaries of the basic RSA do not perceive it. The simple fact of paying the RSA to all those who are really entitled to it would thus represent a cost of at least 3 billion euros per year (the base RSA represented expenditures of 10.4 billion in 2015). If this reform is done without increasing the social assistance budget in France, the government will have to save money on it in another way. Which, mechanically, would make "losers". In this regard, a recent report by France Stratégie, an independent think-tank affiliated to Matignon, showed that such a reform carried out with a constant budget for the state would make millions of "winners", but also millions of "losers". ".
Emmanuel Macron himself recognized this risk in his speech on Thursday:
"We have to take the time to analyze, to consult, sometimes mistakes were made on these beautiful ideas, I look on the other side of the Channel, the merger of many benefits led to reduce the rights of some of them and, basically, create new problems, and we have to analyze very directly, very methodically, what made others fail, sometimes what made us fail when we wanted to do that. "

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4. Is it really a "universal income"?
One-time, automatic payment, not a "universal" income
The concept of "universal income" has been widely popularized during the 2017 presidential campaign, sometimes at random. Originally, proponents of a universal income, such as the French Movement for a Basic Income, defended a very specific idea:
an unconditional income (which does not require the fulfillment of specific criteria) universal (which is addressed to all), individual (paid to individuals and not to households), cumulative with other aids or income, automatic ( which should not be requested), permanent (which is paid continuously, throughout life). Or, the "universal income of activity" Emmanuel Macron would be, for example, neither unconditional nor really universal, nor quite cumulative with other incomes. The presidential idea only really ticks one of the boxes above: that of an automatic payment. This is also why Emmanuel Macron's program spoke of a "single and automatic social payment", a formulation that better reflected the substance of this proposal.
5. What other proposals exist?
Several presidential candidates in 2017, on the other hand, defended the idea of ​​a universal income more in line with the initial philosophy of the project. Thus, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet proposed to pay, unconditionally, 470 euros per month to all French over 18 years and between 200 to 270 euros before. The ecologist Yannick Jadot even envisaged an income "from the birth" of 500 euros per month, combined with a major reform of the tax system.
The case of Benoît Hamon is more questionable. If the former presidential candidate criticized Emmanuel Macron on Thursday on his "desire to recover, sign a proposal that is already made", he himself somewhat stalled on the subject during his campaign. Party with the proposal to pay 750 euros per month to any person major (a "true" universal income), Benoît Hamon had then reworked several times his proposal. Its latest version was very far from the initial philosophy, since it was no longer a universal aid but limited under conditions of resources (below 1.9 smic).