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Wanted: 50,000 more French civil servants

A whopping 20 percent of France’s working population is on the payroll of the state. But new figures reveal that there are still 50,000 posts that need to be filled.

Wanted: 50,000 more French civil servants
In 2013 there were 5.6 million civil servants on France's payroll. Photo: Crowd.

According to a budget report written by Socialist MP Valérie Rabault for the French parliament and seen by the Journal du Dimanche, there are around 50,000 empty posts in the French civil service.

The figures relate to vacancies topped up at the end of 2014, with the education sector being home to most openings.

The empty posts, which include 13,300 teachers, 5,000 soldiers and 4,300 police officers have saved the state some €228 million last year.

According to the report, the primary cause is a “latent period” between the decision to employ someone and actually hiring them as well as a lack of candidates, particularly in the education sector. 

The news comes in spite of French President François Hollande’s promise to recruit 60,000 employees in the education sector by 2017 during his presidential election campaign.

But the large number of vacancies is not a new phenomenon. At the end of 2012 and 2013 there were around 47,000 empty posts.

The figures follow revelations last year that an incredible one in five French people is employed as a civil servant.

Data from the French statistics agency INSEE showed that in 2013 (when the last stats were available) there were 5.6 million civil servants on France’s payroll, an increase on the previous year’s total by 1.5 percent.

It was a less than one percent jump (.3 percent hike over 2011), though enough to continue the nearly yearly growth seen in the French civil service since 1980, French magazine L’Express reported at the time.

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MONEY

Reader Question: Why did my French electricity bill increase by more than 4%?

The French government has capped electricity prices rises at four percent - but as with many French rules, there are certain exceptions.

Reader Question: Why did my French electricity bill increase by more than 4%?

Question: I read in the media that electricity prices in France are capped at four percent, but I just got a letter from EDF telling me that my bill is going up by almost 20 percent – is this a mistake?

The French government’s bouclier tarifaire (tariff shield), froze gas prices at 2021 levels and capped electricity price hikes to four percent – it remain in place until at least the end of 2022.

However, there are some customers who will see increases to their bills of more than that – here’s why: 

The regulated tariff rate

The French government involvement in price-setting doesn’t just happen during periods of energy crisis, normally regulated tariff prices are updated twice a year: usually on February 1st and August 1st.

Typically, this value is calculated by the CRE (commission de régulation de l’énergie) and it is based on several different factors, which are explained on this government website. These tariffs proposed by the CRE are then subject to approval by the ministers in charge of energy and the economy.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Why are French energy prices capped?

These affect the state-owned Engie (formerly Gaz de France), the mostly state-owned EDF and some local distribution companies. Around 70 percent of people in France get their electricity from EDF but other suppliers do exist in the market.

These alternative suppliers, like Direct-Énergie, Total Spring or Antargaz, are free to charge more – but don’t usually charge much above the EDF rates for obvious commercial reasons.

Basic rate

The government-set limit in price rises refers only to the basic rate (option base) for electricity.

This plan represents over 80 percent of the 32 million households connected to the electricity grid in France. So, there is a good chance you might be subscribed to this without even realising it. 

If you are on the basic tariff rate, your bill will not increase by more than four percent this year.

Other tariff options

However, other options for electricity bills do exist, including off-peak rates, green deals and fixed energy prices for a certain period.

Typically people who sign up for these will have been paying less for their electricity in the preceding months than those on the base rate.

However, there are certain special deals that are not covered by the four percent cap, and some users will find that their deal period has come to an end, they are then shifted onto the base rate – which is likely to represent a price increase for them of more than four percent.

It’s little consolation when faced with rising bills, but you will likely have been paying significantly less than customers who have been in the base rate for the past few years.

READ MORE: French government to continue energy price freeze until at least 2023

Kilowatt price

Because most electricity price plans are bafflingly complicated, the easiest way to compare is to look at the price per kilowatt-hour.

Your electricity bill consists of a fixed part, the monthly subscription (abonnement) and the variable part, which depends on the quantity of electricity consumed (in euro per kilowatt-hour, kWh). The latter part is what is concerned by the tariff shield of four percent.

Here is an example of what that might look like:

The mid-August base rate price per kilowatt-hour is €0.1740/ kWh, so if you’re with EDF they cannot charge you more than this rate.

Other EDF plans charge significantly less than that – for example the Vert Electrique Weekend deal has been charging €0.1080/kWh on weekends and €0.1434/kWh on weekdays. 

Bill rises

With the tariff shield, the average resident customer on the base rate will see a €38 rise on their bill this year, while professional customers will see an average of €60 rise. 

Without the tariff shield, electricity prices per residential (non-business) customer would likely have increased an average of €330 a year, according to the CRE.

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