Cuts In Family Benefits Could Decrease Deficit But Threaten Equality

Families would be affected by the proposed cuts.Photo: Alex E. Proimos

Families would be affected by the proposed cuts.
Photo: Alex E. Proimos

In January, the Hollande-Ayrault government announced the necessity of eliminating a two billion euro annual deficit of the Caisse nationale des allocation familiales (CNAF), part of France’s social security program.

In order to reduce the deficit, two adjustments could be made: modulating or taxing of family allowances. On March 28th, Hollande rejected the idea of taxing benefits, and confirmed the possibility of modulation based on family incomes.

In the coming weeks, Ayrault will be working with the Haut conseil de la famille (HCF) on plans to reduce the chronic deficit. HCF President Bertrand Fragonard proposed several scenarios to Ayrault, ranging from “soft” cuts which would close to deficit slightly, to “hard” cuts which would cut it in half.

Both plans include up to 75% cuts, but the affected income groups vary. The more lenient proposal would decrease the deficit by 450 million euro and would affect 7% of families. On the other hand, the stricter proposal would decrease it by 1.55 billion euro and affect 28% of families.

The subject of altering social security programs remains taboo in France, and draws criticism from both ends of the political spectrum.

Opponents worry about supporting their families with less money available, since many use the allowance to pay for daycare, school, etc.

However, at the heart of the opposing argument is a fear that altering family benefits could endanger the entire social security system. It was created based on principles of universality and equality. If family benefits are no longer based on a system of equality, then what else could change?

Supporters agree that it is time for the system to evolve, as it is “not normal” and no longer acceptable for the rich and the poor to receive the same family allowance. Moreover, the money that is saved by the cuts could be better used to invest in nurseries and leisure activities for children.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: