It was enough for Emmanuel Macron to evoke the creation of a "Universal income from activity" Thursday at the announcement of his plan to fight against poverty so that his words resonate with the presidential election of 2017, when the socialist candidate, Benedict Hamon, had made this theme the focus of his campaign. He offered him a "Universal income of existence" 600 euros per month (to gradually reach 750 euros), for the benefit of people without resources, and without further conditions.

This allowance was supposed to supplant the Active Solidarity Income (RSA) and the activity bonus. Although the term "universal" is also included in the device that the President intends to put in place by the vote of"A law in 2020", the two men do not speak quite the same thing. Emmanuel Macron's universal income seems to be part of a major project to overhaul social minima. During his speech Thursday at the Museum of Man, the Head of State deplored the "Maquis of existing aid [which] does not help to get out of poverty". His approach seems particularly driven by a desire to simplify access to rights. "We will merge the largest number of social benefits [and] bring a unique answer" then "To make sure that people live with dignity".

But the contours of this universal income of activity remain extremely vague. "You really have to pay attention to semantics. Many political figures take up the concept of universal income and adapt it to their convenience ", Jean-Eric Hyafil, professor of economics, author of a thesis on universal income. "The true universal income is paid individually to all adults residing in a country, without means or resources," he insists. . Which does not really correspond to the definition given by Emmanuel Macron on Thursday: the income he wants to pass in two years will be, according to him, "Universal, because everyone will be able to claim as soon as their [resources] pass below a certain threshold". But its attribution is conditioned to the income of an individual or a family, as well as obligations to which the recipient will be held. The latter will have to register in «A course insertion " and will benefit from "Help and support". But if "Refuses more than two reasonable job offers"he will lose his rights. Like unemployed people registered at Pôle Emploi. "We will ensure that homework is respected," warned the head of state, speaking "A contract of reciprocal engagement".

"Without resources"

For Camille Lambert, one of the leaders of the Movement for a Basic Income (MRB), "Universal income from activity is not a true universal income. It could be worse than it is today because someone who refuses two job offers would be left without any resources. " Anti-exclusion associations struggle to decipher the intentions of the executive. "The President spoke of a merger of existing benefits, but we do not know which ones are affectedcomments Florent Guéguen, General Director of the Federation of Solidarity Associations. The head of state cited only RSA and APL [Housing assistance], which raises a lot of questions. Because the APL is certainly perceived by people living below the poverty line, but also by poor households who are not poor. In HLM circles, some fear that the merging of LPAs into a system of social minima will lead to further cuts in housing benefits. Under the 2018 Finance Act, the government has already imposed nearly $ 2 billion on PLAs, which is the most powerful redistributive mechanism of all social assistance.

Decrease in income

This income, which is therefore not very universal, is likely to jeopardize the French social model, as feared by some on the left, while the government is trying, by all means, to save money. ? No, promises, the Minister of Social Affairs, Agnès Buzyn, on the bridge after the speech of Emmanuel Macron to explain that this "Large-scale reform" is motivated by "No hidden intention to question certain rights". And to add: "There is no questioning of monetary aids, which increase and will increase again," recalling the promise of the President to continue to revaluate in the coming years the minimum old age, the activity premium and the assistance to disabled adults. But the minister has also been cautious, saying that this reform required "take time". And for good reason. Revealed in August by the world, a study commissioned by the Prime Minister from France Stratégie (a body attached to Matignon) presents a very uncomplimentary assessment of a merger of social minima with a view to creating a single social allowance.

According to this "mission of reflection", the regrouping of the RSA, of the specific solidarity allowance (ASS), of the activity premium, housing aid, of the disabled adult allowance (AHH), of the allowance of solidarity for the elderly (ASPA, former minimum old age), and the supplementary disability allowance (ASI) would result in a decrease in income for no less than 3.55 million households. Among them, they would be 1.5 million to no longer be entitled to anything. At the same time, 3.3 million households would see their resources increase. An operation far from being neutral, therefore. A year earlier, the Dares, a statistical institute linked to the Ministry of Labor, had embarked on a fairly close work, looking into theuniversal credit British. In 2013, the latter chose to group several aid schemes, with a partial payment conditional on the job search. However, according to the Dares, this reform had a "Moderate impact on return to work » and eventually "Although it benefits modest households overall"resulted in "Decreased income of some poor households".

Tonino Serafini , Amandine Cailhol