4.8 Current debates and reforms
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Forthcoming policy developments
The increase in poverty caused by COVID-19 has made social inclusion harder and a longer process for both people in difficulty and young people. In March 2020, the Government put measures into place aimed at limiting the effects of the crisis, through emergency measures. For example, partial activity measures and various financial support schemes (government-guaranteed loans, solidarity funds, etc). A recovery plan was also presented in September 2020. In particular, measures have been taken to prevent and fight against severe poverty. These measures are built around three main priorities:
- Supporting the purchasing power of people in difficulty and lower income earners, by providing them with daily support.
- Encouraging a way out of poverty by developing integration and employment solutions for unemployed people.
- Ensuring suitable housing and accommodation conditions and prevent unpaid rent.
More than 1.8 billion euros have been allocated in total to finance new measures to fight poverty.
Current debates and reforms
The impact of COVID-19 on the social conditions of people, especially the youngest, has brought about many reflections, analytical works and discussions among professionals in the field of social inclusion (associations, institutions, committees, etc.). One example of this is the Evaluation Committee of the National Strategy for the Prevention and Fight against Poverty (comité d’évaluation de la stratégie nationale de prévention et de lutte contre la pauvreté), which published a coronavirus crisis progress score.
The evaluation committee relied on testimonies conducted since the start of the coronavirus crisis. It also consulted the association made up of vulnerable people or people in poverty of the CNLE – National Council for Policies to Combat Poverty and Social Exclusion (Conseil national des politiques de lutte contre la pauvreté et l'exclusion sociale) and a citizens' panel.
The score reviews the effects of the current economic and social crisis on poverty and on the situation of those in difficulty and recommends focal points as to how to respond. It highlights that the health crisis has particularly affected the most disadvantaged who have encountered significant difficulties in terms of their livelihood, health or even access to distance learning during lockdown. In addition, the score highlights that the economic and social crisis "will certainly have an intense effect on poverty which will continue to manifest itself at different points in time.
The Evaluation Committee of the National Strategy for the Prevention and Fight Against Poverty made recommendations to the Government, particularly with regard to young people:
- "Recommendation 4: Young children and children are major victims of the crisis, especially those from poorer backgrounds. Lockdown turned their entire life into a family environment, while the strategy is geared towards bringing children together to fight social inequalities. […] We have to devote sufficient resources to them and act quickly to make up for these shortcomings, both for academic achievements and for extracurricular activities (games, sports, artistic expression, etc.)".
- "Recommendation 5: School dropouts have increased since lockdown. Immediate implementation of compulsory education for 16-18 year olds is necessary and its effectiveness must be monitored, involving all the stakeholders concerned as of today".