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EACEA National Policies Platform: Youthwiki
France

France

4. Social Inclusion

4.6 Access to quality services

On this page
  1. Housing
  2. Social services
  3. Health care
  4. Financial services
  5. Quality assurance

 

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 such as the "Young people's Compass".

 

"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. 

 

 

Housing

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 average, young people use between 18 and 22 % of their resources for housing, as opposed to 10,3% for the rest of the population. Given that finding, the objective of public authorities is to facilitate access to housing that is tailored to the needs of young people and to their resources. In response, the State, in partnership with institutional and voluntary actors, has put in place a “youth housing” strategy that has led to the implementation of several facilities aimed at:

  1. 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.

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).

 

2. Facilitate access to ownership by:

  • Le PTZ – Zero-Rate Loan (Prêt à Taux Zéro) 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.  

 

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). Those benefits are paid and overseen by the Family Allowances Fund (Caisse d’Allocations Familiales) on a means-tested basis. There is no minimum age requirement for applying for those benefits.

These various social aid schemes (Social Housing Benefit / Personalised Housing Benefit) are set to be reformed in 2020 (see 4.8)

 

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 employees’ hostels or youth housing”, which provide them with temporary accommodation (for a maximum of two years).

 

Social services

 

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 such as the GIVEKA foundation 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

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:

 

Social-action centres

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  

 

 

Health care

 

As part of the Priority Youth Policy (2013-2017), improving the health of young people and encourage access to prevention and care, took the form of various measures, including the drafting of legislation on the health of young people. The first chapter of 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.

 

Preventing risks

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:

 

National Health Strategy 2018-2022

 In addition, in December 2017, the Government adopted the 2018-2022 national health strategy, which contains a number of measures targeting children and young people.

  • Introducing a health pathway for 0 - 6 y/o;
  • Preventing child obesity;
  • Stepping up promotion of health in schools;
  • Improving healthcare provision in Overseas France by creating a hundred or so “overseas” specialist assistant positions and improving the job status’ attractiveness;
  • Preventing hearing loss among young people;
  • Testing out the “Pass préservatif” (Condom Pass) scheme for under 25 y/o: a sexual health information and awareness-raising programme targeting young people and including introduction of a card giving free access to condoms;
  • Increasing interventions in the context of the “Consultations jeunes consommateurs de drogues” (Young drug-user consultations) scheme;
  • Systematically providing specialised assistance to young people admitted to emergency departments or hospitalised following a bout of binge drinking;
  • Training students taking first-aid courses in mental health.

 

The context of the Coronavirus health crisis

The anxiety and isolation arising from the health crisis enhances the psychological fragilty 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  

 

Financial services

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. 

 

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.

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 Civil Service Diversity Allowance (Allocation pour la Diversité dans la Fonction Publique), 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.

 

 

Quality assurance

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.

Satisfaction survey 

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.

 

Policies evaluation

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...).