• France's news in English

Opposition slams government anti-fraud moves

Matthew Warren · 9 Aug 2011, 08:26

Published: 09 Aug 2011 10:01 GMT+02:00
Updated: 09 Aug 2011 08:26 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

French politics usually takes a break in August, but a row has blown up over tackling benefit fraud. The government has proposed stricter monitoring of claimants while the opposition has accused ministers of political posturing.

Despite most of France's political classes being on their traditional August holidays, a proposal to get tough on benefit fraud by the transport minister has had a bigger impact than probably even he expected.

Thierry Mariani, a member of the conservative wing of the governing UMP party, was speaking to the Journal du Dimanche in a wide ranging interview.

When asked what themes he and his fellow right-wingers would focus on in the upcoming elections of 2012, Mariani listed a number of topics. 

"We will have a series of proposals on sovereignty, jobs and social justice. This is an important theme. It's about fighting those who profit both at the bottom and the top of the social scale," he told the newspaper.

Regarding benefit fraud, he said "I support the creation of one single register that lists all the benefits that are claimed. This will help identify abuse. At the moment, the same person can claim income support benefits in several areas because the lists aren't linked together."

"I am completely in agreement with Thierry Mariani," employment minister Xavier Bertrand told AFP on Sunday.

"The creation of a single register covering all benefits, allowing us to check claims against each other, is the best way to reinforce the battle against benefit fraud," he said. He promised the register would be in place before the end of the year.

Opposition politicians were quick to attack the measures. 

The proposal is intended to "stigmatize those people who are having a difficult time," said Socialist politician Jean-Michel Baylet, who is standing in the upcoming primary race that will choose the party's presidential candidate.

Benoît Hamon, Socialist party spokesman, used his Twitter account to make a comparison between the "€2 billion of benefit fraud" versus the "€8-16 billion euros" of fraud by employers in their payment of social contributions. "The government goes after the first and ignores the second," he said.

Benefit fraud is a hot topic in France. A parliamentary report in June claimed that the government was losing €20 billion a year in fraud and undeclared income.


Matthew Warren (news.france@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Migrants bussed out of Calais Jungle to all corners of France
All photos: AFP

Hundreds of migrants are being bussed across France on Monday ahead of the demolition of the Jungle camp.

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
A Prophet. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

Looking for something to watch?

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part Two
Rust and Bone. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

The newest French films you need to see before you die (or alternatively when you get some spare time).

Election Watch
Presidential hopeful reckons a pain au chocolat is 10 cents

So France happily takes the pastry out of him.

French ministry of defence officials die in plane crash
Screengrab: eddydeg/Twitter

The French Ministry of Defence officials were killed on Monday when a light aircraft went down on the island of Malta.

Revealed: The ten most stolen cars in France
A Smart car in Paris. Photo: JR_Paris/Flickr

Thieves in France are getting a taste for luxury cars, it seems.

Analysis - France migrant crisis
Migrant crisis won't end with Calais 'Jungle' closure
All Photos: AFP

The Jungle camp may be being cleared but this won't be the end of the migrant crisis in France.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie 'to sell their French chateau'
All photos: AFP

Want to live where Brangelina got married?

How Paris is rapidly becoming Europe's 'City of Innovation'
Photo: AFP

If you want to start a company then Paris is the place to do it, it seems.

France's 'Jungle' children arrive in UK
Authorities will start to clear the ‘Jungle’ migrant camp on Monday. Photo: Denis Charlet / AFP file picture

The first group of children from the French "Jungle" migrant camp with no connection to Britain have arrived in the country, the Home Office said Sunday, ahead of the camp's planned demolition.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available