Why the abolition of the specific solidarity allowance arouses criticism

This was one of the concrete announcements made by Prime Minister Gabriel Attal during his general policy speech to the National Assembly on January 30

Why the abolition of the specific solidarity allowance arouses criticism

This was one of the concrete announcements made by Prime Minister Gabriel Attal during his general policy speech to the National Assembly on January 30. Since then, the announced abolition of the specific solidarity allowance (ASS) has sparked complaints, both from those involved in social assistance and in the departments.

This financial assistance of 18.17 euros per day (545.10 euros per month) is aimed at unemployed people at the end of their rights, to supplement their income or provide them with a minimum to live on. Created in 1984, ASS is paid by France Travail (formerly Pôle Emploi), in renewable periods of six months. It is granted based on criteria of past activity and income.

To benefit from it, you must:

The ASS also concerns certain specific professions, such as self-employed artists, fishermen and occasional dock workers.

According to the latest report from the Department of Research, Studies, Evaluation and Statistics (Drees), ASS concerned 321,900 people at the end of 2021, a figure that has been in almost constant decline since 2016. It is paid to almost equal shares for men (53%) and women (47%), and rather benefits people at the end of their careers (40% of beneficiaries are between 50 and 59 years old).

In his general policy speech, Gabriel Attal described the SSA as an “inactivity trap”, because it “extends aid after the end of unemployment insurance”. In its logic, its gradual abolition should encourage job seekers who have run out of rights to return to the labor market. It is part of his general ambition to “unlock work by encouraging activity”, according to the Prime Minister.

It would also be a saving for the State, which finances the SSA from its solidarity, integration and equal opportunities budget. While the announced slowdown in growth risks complicating the reduction of the deficit and France is under threat of a downgrade of its public debt rating, the government is looking for savings. As it stands, the abolition of the ASS could represent a little more than 2 billion euros in less spending. “Seeking a more efficient and less costly social model is not a bad word, it is an imperative,” assumed the former socialist during his speech.

The announcement of the abolition of the ASS sparked critical reactions from several categories of actors affected by the measure.

1. Precarious people who will no longer contribute

Once the ASS is abolished, its beneficiaries would switch to active solidarity income (RSA). If the amount of the RSA is slightly higher (607.75 euros compared to 545.10 euros per month), this allowance is in several aspects less advantageous:

As a result, the abolition of the ASS risks pushing already fragile people into an even more precarious situation. Hugues Vidor, president of the Union of Employers of the Social and Solidarity Economy (UDES), warns in the columns of L'Obs of the risk of "plunging them into extreme poverty", and of creating an "economic powder keg and social”.

The reform particularly risks impoverishing people at the end of their careers. On the one hand, they now have to stay on the job market longer to be able to retire, without reform to improve the attractiveness of seniors. On the other hand, the abolition of ASS postpones their retirement, since the RSA to which they would switch does not allow them to contribute. In short, it threatens them with having to remain active both poorer and for longer.

2. A reduction in aid for 15,000 adults with disabilities

The disappearance of the ASS also worries disability stakeholders. Until now, disabled people at the end of their rights could combine ASS with their allowance for disabled adults (AAH).

This accumulation was supposed to be authorized as an exception until 2026. But it will no longer be possible with the abolition of the ASS, because the RSA cannot be combined with the AAH. Some 15,000 people currently concerned will be “harmed if the reform does not take their particular case into account”, according to estimates from the specialist site Face Face.

In the 2024 budget, the government passed a measure facilitating the accumulation of AAH with professional activity, arguing that “the inclusion and support of people with disabilities remains at the heart of [its] priorities” .

3. A poisoned chalice for departmental budgets

Finally, the elimination of the ASS is not without consequences for the budgets of the departments, which finance the RSA, which will take over. The president of the Vienne departmental council, Alain Pichon (various right), deplored an "unacceptable" decision, with "enormous financial consequences", of the order of 7.3 million euros on the scale of its only department.

At the national level, according to the association of elected Departments of France, this represents an additional bill of 3.5 billion, which, for its president, François Sauvadet, is a game of writing to reassure the agencies of rating on the public deficit of the State. “Camouflage social spending by transferring it to departments can only last for so long,” he warns. Every year, the State hides 10 billion euros in our accounts by not compensating individual solidarity allowances (RSA, APA, PCH). This will eventually show, especially when we can no longer pay them. » In his eyes, this measure will mechanically burden departmental budgets allocated to other public policies, such as ecological transition, maintenance of the road network or education.