4.6 Access to quality services
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Several facilities that encourage social inclusion, especially through access to public services (health, housing, etc.), have been put in place or renewed by the political authorities.
In 2021, 24% of young people aged between 18 and 30 were not taking advantage of benefits. 1,200 per month, although they are not therefore in the majority in this situation. The proportion of young people considered to be in an economically vulnerable situation who are questioned about taking up aid shows "a symbolic cost to applying for aid" (DJEPVA 2021 Barometer). More young people who are unemployed say they do not know whether they are entitled to all the schemes to which they are entitled: 41% of young people who are unemployed are in this situation, compared with 33% of young people in general. This situation also concerns 40% of young people living in a hostel, a university residence or a furnished hotel.
In this context, the government is trying to diversify the sources of information and improve the quality of the services offered.
Access to resources
The social rate meal or "one-euro meal".
1 euro meals are reserved for students with scholarships or in situations of precariousness identified by the CROUS. During the health crisis, they were temporarily extended to all students.
The Student Emergency Fund (FNAU)
This fund can grant a specific annual allowance for students in difficulty. In 2022, an additional 100 euros were paid. You must have a grant based on social criteria to benefit from it. The allowance is paid automatically during the same period as the grant. The allowance allows for support of between €1,084 (step 0bis) and €5,965 (step 7).
The Minimum Student Income (RME)
The student minimum income, created in 1989, is a local communal initiative that provides financial assistance to students in some 20 communes. The funds are allocated through the Centre communal d'actions sociales (CCAS). Each municipality sets its own terms and conditions, but it is mainly envisaged as a scholarship to encourage students to continue their studies and is aimed at young students under 27 years of age.
The scheme is open to young people living in these municipalities who already benefit from a study grant based on social criteria. In 2022, 89 students benefited from an RME, for an annual amount between 100 and 2,300 euros. In addition to the RME, it should be noted that other cities offer financial aid to students under other names ('financial complement', 'success grant', 'local student contribution', etc.).
Access to information
"Young people's Compass" (Boussole des Jeunes)
In 2017, in order to facilitate young people’s access to their rights, the Ministry responsible for youth affairs, via the DJEPVA – Department for Youth, Non-Formal Education and Voluntary Organisations (Direction de la jeunesse, de l’éducation populaire et de la vie associative) developed the “la Boussole des jeunes” (Young People’s Compass), a digital platform providing young people with knowledge of the various rights and schemes that they might lay claim to depending on their situations and where they live. It facilitates access to the services available from public service professionals in the area they live in. The platform’s service offers are organised by theme, provided by professional bodies and financed or cofinanced by the public authorities. In 2022, 36 territories are covered by the Compass and 29 are being deployed.
Information and guidance centres (CIO)
The CIOs, under the authority of the Ministry of Education, are located throughout the country to welcome young people at school and their families and provide guidance and information.
The local missions, located throughout the country, are run by associations responsible for welcoming young people aged 16 to 25 and providing them with knowledge and occasional support concerning employment, training, health, housing, mobility, leisure and sport.
The info-jeunes network
The info-jeunes network brings together structures approved by the State. It is made up of the youth information and documentation centre (CIDJ), the regional youth information centres (CRIJ) and sub-regional structures.
The role of each structure is to inform young people at local, regional and national level on all areas that may concern them.
Common university information and guidance services (SCUIO)
The SCUIOs are located in the universities and provide access to information and documentation for students on study, guidance and professional integration.
Youth drop-in centres (Points d'accueil et d'écoutes jeunes - PAEJ)
These drop-in centres offer young people aged 12 to 25, alone or in groups, advice or guidance without an appointment, concerning guidance, well-being and health. Among the themes of intervention of PAEJ counsellors are social dropout, school dropout, school difficulties, situations of violence and cases of mental suffering. In 2021 , France had 205 PAEJ antennas reaching approximately 70,000 young people per year, financed to the tune of 8.9 million euros by the state. The 2018-2022 national strategy for preventing and combating poverty includes an annual allocation of 4 million euros to the structures that run these centres.
The resources dedicated to supporting the PAEJs (youth advice centres) have been almost doubled (€9 million) as part of the Poverty Strategy, making it possible to increase the number of approved structures (201) by 30%. They have welcomed 216,000 young people, of whom almost 90,000 have received individualised support. However, 15 departments are still not covered.
According to the INSEE – National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques), over the last twenty-five years, the proportion of young people in social housing stock and the percentage of young owners have fallen. On the contrary, the proportion of young people housed in the "free" rental sector rised, as well as the price of rent.
In 2021, according to an information report by the National Assembly, the net effort rate devoted to housing for young people is twice that of the general population. Housing accounts for 60% of students' budgets, making it the largest item of expenditure for young people.
Young people experience relative residential autonomy, with many continuing to be "dependent on their families for material support in most cases, while experiencing forms of non-definitive decohabitation".
70% of adults living with their parents are aged between 18 and 24 (2020). They refer to two distinct situations: one part of them never left, the other returned after living in independent accommodation for at least three months.
The second situation is in the majority: among young people living with their parents, four out of ten have already experienced an episode of decohabitation in 2021.
According to the Key Data on Youth 2021, in 2020, 75% of young people aged 18 to 24 living with their parents were living there due to a lack of ability to access independent housing, either through their own means or with the help of their parents. This proportion has been increasing since the 2000s (45% of 18-29 year olds lived with their parents in 2001 compared to 57% in 2014).
Access to social housing
In 2021, 41% of young people aged 18-30 are tenants of social housing and 59% of private housing.
According to a 2021 information report, there is an 'under-representation' of 18-30 year olds among social housing tenants for the following reasons
- 18-30 year olds experience frequent changes in housing "mobility": 40% of under 25s change housing each year, creating procedural difficulties in applying for social housing
- 18-30 year olds have needs linked to their activities, particularly for students, leading to a certain scarcity of the property sought (search for small areas, location of housing, transport infrastructure) - it should be noted that young students are also subject to high rental pressure in the major urban centres
- There are more priority groups under the age of 25 (21% of their age group in 2021), and therefore more competition.
In view of these facts, the objective of the public authorities is to facilitate access to housing adapted to the needs of young people and their resources. In response, the State, in partnership with institutional and associative actors, has put in place a "youth housing" strategy which has led to the implementation of several measures aimed at:
Easing access to rental housing through:
The LOKAVIZ mark
The LOKAVIZ mark is awarded to (private) student housing by the CNOUS and CROUSs. It enables students to be guaranteed decent housing and it enables owners to find tenants easily, in particular though the dedicated LOKAVIZ web site, which lists all charter-marked housing. The mark is awarded based on regulatory criteria for decent and for the energy performance of buildings, the amount of rent and charges, compliance with best practice between lessor and tenant, as well as location, taking account of the closeness of higher-education establishments, journey times by public transport or bicycle, as well as sports and cultural facilities. In 2019 (latest data), CROUS estimated that 60,000 people a year would find accommodation nationally.
The Visale facility
Young employees entering work can use the Visale – Visa for Accommodation and Work (Visa pour le Logement et l’Emploi) facility to guarantee payment of their rent arrears in the private housing sector. It involves young people between the ages of 18 and 30 regardless of their professional situation and any wage earner over the age of 30, from an agricultural company or a company from the private sector (or holder of an offer of work). At the end of 2022, 820,000 households were beneficiaries of the Visale guarantee. The average age of these beneficiaries is 24 years (2020).
Supported by Action Logement, the Loca-pass allows the payment of the housing deposit in the form of a zero interest loan. The scheme is aimed at employees in the non-agricultural private sector, young people under the age of 30 in vocational training, and student employees. In 2018, around 27 000 people were newly eligible for this scheme.
Supported by Action Logement, this aid is a subsidy covering between 10 and 100 euros of rent per month for a maximum of one year. It is aimed at young people under 30 years of age who are on a work-linked training contract (professionalisation or work-linked training contract), whose gross monthly salary does not exceed the minimum growth wage (SMIC) of 1,329 euros in 2022.
In 2018, 74,000 work-study students benefited from this. In 2021, the State has committed 11,000 aids for a total budget of 110 million euros.
Other types of support:
Some cities also promote intergenerational cohabitation. This consists in particular of older people providing a furnished room free of charge or at low cost in exchange for the regular presence of the young person at certain times of the week. This type of scheme is set up by the city of Paris, with the support of associations that facilitate the establishment of relationships.
Action by associations, such as the AFEV's KAPS scheme
Set up with the support of public and private partners, the Kolocations à Projets Solidaires (KAPS) allow young people to live in shared flats and to get involved with the inhabitants of working-class neighbourhoods. An innovative and original concept, inspired by the Kots-à-Projets in Belgium, the Kaps are based on a simple principle: each shared flat has a corresponding solidarity action carried out with the inhabitants, in order to promote living together.
2. Facilitate access to ownership by:
The PTZ – Zero-Rate Loan (Prêt à Taux Zéro)
This loan has been reformed for first-time buyers (the reform came into force on 1 January 2016). It enables them to finance up to 40% of their housing on an interest-free basis. The loan can be used anywhere in France for buying a new-build or older property, and it can run for 20 or 25 years. The PTZ consists of a deferred-payment of between 5 and 15 years, during which the young person makes no monthly payments towards her/his loan.
The interest-free loan is a loan assisted by the State for first-timer buyers.
The State-guaranteed student loan
This loan helps young French people or nationals of a European Economic Area (EEA) country under the age of 28 to finance their studies. Young people must apply to the banks that are partners in the operation. Repayment of the loan, which can be deferred until the end of the studies, gives rise to the payment of interest. In 2021, the loan capacity will be €675 million, thanks in particular to a €16 million contribution from the recovery plan, enabling 55 000 students to benefit from the scheme (compared with €135 million and 7 500 beneficiaries in 2020).
3. Encourage access to housing by young people who are disadvantaged or who are in dire poverty
Providing better support for young people, especially the most disadvantaged, is also an essential challenge. Hence, young people placed under legal control are given individual support by a single reference person, the Insertion and Probation Adviser (Conseiller d’Insertion et de Probation), who is tasked with monitoring the young person and with supporting her/him in access to housing.
To those recent initiatives must be added traditional social-action facilities such as housing assistance.
Young people can also benefit from ALS – Social-Housing Benefit (Allocation de Logement à Caractère Social) as well as APL – Personalised Housing Assistance (Aide Personnalisée au Logement) granted to tenants in subsidised housing (housing that is the subject of an agreement between the State and the housing owner).
This aid is paid and supervised by the Caisse d'allocations familiales (family allowance fund) under certain resource conditions. There is no minimum age requirement to apply for this assistance.
Since 1 January 2021, the APL has been calculated every three months on the basis of the income of the last twelve months (and no longer every year on the basis of the income received during the last two years), on the basis of a declaration at the time of application. France wants to test the automatic payment of APL in 2023. The average APL per household is 225 euros per month. This amount is 100 to 150 euros for a student APL.
In 2021, the CAF paid a total national amount of 16-17 billion euros to approximately 6.5 million recipients.
Students, in particular, constituted 791,000 beneficiaries in 2021,12% of the households concerned, plus 574,000 beneficiaries under the age of 25, i.e. 8.6% of the households concerned.
In addition, young people aged 16 to 30 who are in employment, on placement, in an apprenticeship, or looking for work can use youth hostels, also called “young workers’ hostels or youth housing” (Foyers de jeunes travailleurs - FJT), which provide them with temporary accommodation (for a maximum of two years). The FJTs, run by the Union nationale pour l'habitat des jeunes (UNHAJ), are transitional social housing solutions for young people aged between 16 and 30 starting their working life for a period of one month (with the possibility of automatic renewal). This type of accommodation is accompanied by services (access to low-cost catering, activities and leisure activities, collective work spaces and a laundry room). Properties with the FJT label must be approved by a regional commission. Funding for these is provided, in particular, by the Caisse d'Allocations Familiales. According to a study by the INJEP in 2021, there will be 45,000 FJT-labelled dwellings in France by the beginning of 2022. In 2019, there were 42,000 young people who had stayed at least one night in an FJT residence or service that was a member of the Union.
When young people suffer financial difficulties, they can turn to a number of social services. Those social services include some that are dedicated specifically to young people, whilst others deal with the public as a whole.
Social services aimed at young people
University social services
Higher-education establishments have their own social services co-ordinated by the CROUS – Regional Centres for University and School Services (Centres Régionaux des Œuvres Universitaires et Scolaires). CROUSs have their own social-service offices.
Within those services, young people can request specific help: either one-off help in the case of serious financial difficulties, or an annual benefit (over 10 months) when they experience long-term financial difficulties and they do not receive any grants based on social criteria. That help is aimed at students under the age of 35 who are in financial difficulty. There is no age limit for disable people.
Furthermore, the handicapped or people with health problems can benefit from scholarships from university foundations overseen by the CROUS. These scholarships are for students who, due to an accident or illness, cannot afford to begin or continue their studies.
All those requests for specific help are examined by a commission chaired by the CROUS Director.
Local missions (cf. 4.2) can support young people when the latter are faced with serious difficulties, in particular by giving them access to the FAJ – Youth Assistance Fund (Fonds d’Aide aux Jeunes). The FAJ is a facility for providing temporary financial help that is managed and financed by the départements. It is aimed at young adults (aged 18 to 25) who are experiencing social difficulty, and it includes three types of assistance:
- temporary help: exceptional financial help to deal with an emergency (food purchases, transport costs, healthcare expenditure, etc.) or with emergency housing
- financial help with an insertion project (placements, etc.)
- financial help lined to support action: long-term support (health, etc.).
That help is given after a request is made to local missions, and it is means-tested as well as status-based. The amount given varies by département.
Social services for the general public
Young people can also use more general social services, such as the Family Allowances Fund and the social-action centres of their communes.
The CAF – Family Allowances Fund (See Glossary)
Several CAF facilities and services are offered to people to ease their insertion into society and to bring them out of their financial and social difficulties:
- the Earned Income Supplement (Revenu de Solidarité Active), which supplements low earnings in order to provide a minimum income. The facility was established by law no. 2008-1249 of 1 December 2008, and carries on from the RMI – Job-Seeker’s Allowance (Revenu Minimum d’Insertion, set up in 1988), by providing a minimum income to the very poorest people. Entitlement to the RSA begins at age 25; however, since 1 September 2010, it has also been available to young working people aged under 25 (decree no. 2010-961 of 25 August 2010 on extending the Earned Income Supplement (Revenu de Solidarité Active) to young people aged under twenty-five) if they meet certain criteria. On 1 January 2016, the government established “Work Credit (Prime d’Activité)”, which merges “work” RSA and “employment credit”, which was an income supplement paid by the State to employees whose income did not exceed a certain amount.
- Work Credit (Prime d’Activité), partly aimed at young working people (from age 18 onwards). Its aim is to “encourage a return to professional work”, in particular by supplementing the income of workers of modest means. Its amount is calculated on the basis of the composition and resources of the household, and on the basis of the beneficiaries’ income level. A reform of the "Work Credit" is currently underway.
- Family Support Allowance (Allocation de Soutien Familial), which is paid to bring up a child who does not receive help from either or both of its parents, or to top up a low-amount maintenance allowance
- AAH – Disabled Adults’ Allowance (Allocation aux Adultes Handicapés), to provide a minimum income for disabled people. The AAH is financed by the State and paid by the CAF – Family Allowances Funds (Caisses d’Allocations Familiales).
Communes have a CCAS – Communal Social-Action Centre (Centre Communal d’Action Sociale). That administrative public establishment is tasked with putting in place the commune’s social policy, and it is aimed particularly at young people in precarity. Its mission is to help poor people with administrative formalities and with completing applications to receive medical help, social housing, and financial help.
The context of the Coronavirus health crisis
The anxiety and isolation arising from the health crisis enhances the psychological frailty of students. In order to support young people in this difficult context, the ministry of higher education has launched a platform which lists the social integration initiatives and the assistance, material, administrative and psychological support mechanisms established within the establishments.
Furthermore, the ministry has a number of freephone services to respond to the questions on emergency assistance generated from the Crous (public university services) as well as numbers and internet sites of university health services and psychological support: soutien-etudiant.info
For more information, see Chapter 7 on Health and well-being.
According to the Interministerial Delegation for the Fight and Prevention of Poverty (DIPLP), approximately 15% of young people in France experience a major depressive episode between the ages of 16 and 25. Suicide is also the second leading cause of death (after road accidents) between the ages of 10 and 25. The health crisis has unfortunately aggravated this situation, with an increase in depressive states, which affected a quarter of women aged 15 to 24 at the end of 2020.
The law on modernising the health system, which was promulgated on 26 January 2016, states that it provides “Support for young people in equality of heath opportunities”. The law encourages, amongst other things, access to health entitlements and services through various initiatives that facilitate access to care and prevention:
Access to care
- Young people under the age of 16 can benefit from a medical reference person in the shape of the physician chosen by the family.
- The validity period of medical certificates has been reformed, making it easier for young people to obtain a medical certificate to practise a sport.
- Measures enabling young people to have better financial cover for their healthcare expenditure, such as the general application of the system of third-party payment and simplifying access to ACS – Help with paying for additional Health Insurance (Aide du paiement à une Complémentaire Santé).
- Students who have experienced family breakdown and who receive specific help can make an application for ACS – Help with paying for Additional Health Insurance (Aide du paiement à une Complémentaire Santé), and benefit from CMU-C – Additional Universal Health Insurance (Couverture Maladie Universelle Complémentaire). CMU-C is free additional health insurance aimed at facilitating access to care for people living in France on a stable basis and who are of modest means.
Initiatives on sexual health have also been implemented by school nurses providing emergency contraception, and by free access for minors aged at least 15 to reimbursable contraceptives as well as to medical consultations and examinations needed for those contraceptives to be prescribed.
Measures for preventing risky behaviour have been reinforced in partnership with school and higher-education establishments:
- (secondary-) school establishments can set up campaigns to prevent addictive behaviour in a school setting: pupils are informed of the dangerous nature of products (tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs) and their effects, as well as of current legislation
- in order to provide training in the problems of addictive behaviour, school establishments, DGESCO – Directorate General of School Education and MILDECA – Cross-Ministerial Mission on the Fight against Drugs and Addictive Behaviour (Mission Interministérielle de Lutte contre les Drogues et les Conduites Addictives) have produced a guide for people working in a school setting.
- Each higher-education establishment has an inter-university department for student health with the role of advising and guiding young people, as well as carrying out actions on prevention and information for health. Several actions for preventing risky behaviour have also been set up within those structures, such as the appointment of “health relay” students. The role of those young people is to inform and guide their colleagues in relation to health problems. They are the interface between medical and social professionals, university institutions, and students.
For more information, see Chapters 7.2. Health and well-being, administration and governance - intersectorial cooperation, and Chapter 7.4. Health and well-being, healthy lifestyles and healthy nutrition.
Young people faced with financial difficulties can have access to specific help by applying to social services, but they can also turn to arrangements and facilities for providing financial help, which help them with their insertion into society. Those facilities include:
Work Credit (Prime d’Activité)
Young job-seekers can also receive Work Credit (Prime d’Activité). Set up on 1 January 2016, the credit enables support to be given to the activity and buying power of employees in precarity; Students and apprentices can also be entitled to it if they show sufficient earned income. At the beginning of 2023, the activity allowance underwent a reform leading to changes in terms of resource ceilings and the amounts allocated.
Help with looking for a first job
At the start of the 2016 academic year, the Government set up ARPE – Help with Looking for a First Job (Aide à la Recherche du Premier Emploi). ARPE is paid each month for 4 months to young graduates (from CAP – Certificate of Competence (Certificat d’Aptitude Professionnelle) to Master’s level), in order to provide financial support during the period of professional insertion that runs from the end of studies to starting one’s first job. ARPE is reserved for young people who received an educational grant during the final year of studies leading to a qualification via the school or university route.
Grants based on social criteria
Depending on their parents’ income, the number of children, and the distance from their place of study, students aged under 28 can be entitled to a grant based on social criteria that can enable them to meet their expenses and follow their academic curriculum. Grants are paid for 10 months. The amount paid varies according to the level of each student (the level is defined on the basis of social criteria), from 0, which grants exemption from university registration fees and from payment of student social-security contributions, to 7. In the year 2020-2021, 749,562 students received scholarships, the largest share of which was in step 0 (238,162 students) and step 1 (105,137 students). 56,092 students received a step 7 grant.
Merit-Based Help (Aide au Mérite)
Student can obtain other types of help, such as Merit-Based Help (Aide au Mérite), an supplement to the grant based on social criteria for higher-education students who obtained a “Très Bien” (“Very Good”) grade in their baccalauréat (a national qualification issued at the end of secondary studies). In addition, students who prepare for one or more civil-service exams can, depending on the results obtained in their previous studies, receive the Diversity in public service allocation ("talents grant"), which stands at 2,000 euros.
Arrangements for banking inclusion
In order to reduce the risks of over-indebtedness, especially for disadvantaged people, the Multiyear Plan against Poverty and for Social Inclusion includes several measures relating to banking inclusion and preventing over-indebtedness, such as a ceiling on commission and the legal obligation for credit establishments to put in place mechanisms for the early detection and processing of their clients’ difficulties.
All those measures are part of the banking law of 26 July 2013, as well as the establishment of the Observatory on Banking Inclusion (Observatoire de l’Inclusion Bancaire) (decree no. 2014-737 of 30 June 2014 on the Observatory on Banking Inclusion (Observatoire de l'Inclusion Bancaire)), which has the task of monitoring the practices of credit establishments in matters of banking inclusion, in particular with regard to populations in financial fragility. The Observatory must provide public authorities as well as all actors involved (banks and credit companies) with objective data that allow practices and their developments to be evaluated, and ways of improvement to be put in place. It draws up an annual report that lists the actions taken in the fight against banking exclusion.
In addition, in September 2018, The Ministry of Economy and Finance reached an agreement with the banking sector limiting bank charges for account holders with social problems who have bounced cheques, largely due to such charges.
Help with driving licences
It has been made easier for unemployed young people aged 15 to 25 to undertake driver training, in particular by relaxing the terms and conditions for the Driving Licence at One Euro per Day (Permis à Un Euro par Jour). The maximum amount of the loan granted to young people to finance the driving licence is 1,200 euros.
There is different approaches for evaluating the quality of those various services.
It is also important to distinguish between the evaluation of the impact of facilities on young people from checking the quality of services offered (reception arrangements, support, etc.). The former can be the subject of an internal evaluation (via ministerial statistics departments) and/or a qualitative evaluation by external actors (e.g. an academic laboratory or an evaluation agency); the latter can be the subject of a satisfaction survey or of surveys put in place by the structure itself.
As an example of satisfaction survey , the Family Allowances Funds (Caisses d’Allocations Familiales) can carry out their own surveys. The CROUSs (See. 4.7), a student public services also carry out annual surveys on the quality of their services, especially university catering. In order to improve their services on campus, anticipate student expectations and modernize their structures, the CROUSs regularly conduct satisfaction surveys. In 2016, two large-scale surveys were conducted on catering and housing.
Furthermore, the Observatory of Student Life (Observatoire de la Vie Étudiante) carries out surveys every three years on students’ living conditions, in order to provide information to public authorities and improve students’ living conditions.
The evaluation of the effects and impacts of social policies is recurrent. Some evaluation are archieved by inspectorate services as the cross-ministerial inspectorate of the social sector which carries out monitoring, audit and evaluation missions. The Department of research studies, evaluation and statistics (DREES) is a directorate of the ministry in charge of health and social affairs. Its role is also to contribute to the evaluation of social policies and produce synthesis work (living condiditions of young adults, the state of population health in France, social protection schemes...).