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BENEFITS

Find out what changes in France from April 2016

The beginning of the month signals a new raft of changes in France, some may even leave you better off, if ever so slightly. Here's what you need to know.

Find out what changes in France from April 2016
Photo: AFP

What will change in France as of April 1st.

First the good news…

The price of gas declines – again

The price of gas tariffs from provider Engie (Ex GDF Suez) will fall again on April 1st, by an average of 3.72 percent. It's the seventh consecutive month that the prices have dropped and means that tariffs have dropped by 18.6 percent on average since January 2015.

The fall will benefit around 6.4 million households in France, so over half of France's 10.6 million households that consume gas.

Those who use gas throughout their home will see an average drop in price of 3.8 percent, and if you use it just for cooking you should see a decrease of around 1.2 percent in your monthly bills.

A (tiny) increase in social benefits and family allowances

A small adjustment to how benefits are calculated means family allowances and social benefits, including for the elderly (Aspa) and the disabled (AAH), will increase by about 0.1 percent.

The RSA – (Revenu de solidarité active) France's basic in work benefit will increase ever so slightly per month and we mean ever so slightly, from €524.16 to €524.68. Not a life changing rise, but enough to get you one more café creme each year.

Family allowances – Basic monthly family allowance payments will rise from €406.21 to €406.62

In work tax credit (prime d'activitié) – This new tax credit that replaced the old “prime d'emploi” will come into force and see the first installments paid out to those on low incomes. (March 31st was the final deadline to date to apply for the first installment of the credit, that will paid out depending on how much you earned over the last three months.)

According to calculations the amount paid out will be €524.68.

Those who want to apply for the next trimestre must register online at the CAF website.

And the bad news…

Fees introduced for changing or cancelling train reservations

There's bad news for anyone who frequently has last-minute changes to their travel plans in France.

From now on French rail operator SNCF will charge €5 to exchange or refund train tickets between the purchase date and the day before departure – something which was previously possible for free.

If you want to make changes on the day of the scheduled departure, the fee will shoot up to €15, or remain at €5 if you have a discount card (Youth, Senior or Child). Only those who fork out for the more costly Pro tickets will avoid the charge.

And in other changes…

All costs of an abortion (IVG) covered

Since 2013 the cost of the actual procedure has been covered entirely by the Securité Sociale, but from April 1st the state's health insurance l'Assurance Maladie will cover all the costs surrounding an abortion, including blood tests, scans, medical checks etc.

Winter freeze on evictions ends

The five month trêve hivernale or winter truce is over, meaning landlords can now evict tenants who haven't been paying their rent.

As is the case every year in France judicial eviction orders are suspended over the winter, but the freeze lifts on midnight of March 31st. So from April 1st the bailiffs can move in.

Around 40,000 households may be affected.

Affected landlords and tenants can call the free number for the National Agency for Housing Information (Anil) on 0805 160 075.

Guarantee against unpaid alimony

GIPA allows single parents, whose former spouse does not provide them with family support, to receive a monthly allowance of €104.75 under the family support allowance (ASF). The Family Allowances Fund (CAF) will then be mandated to recover the costs from the non-paying spouse.

This system has been tested in 20 departments already, and will now be implemented across France. GIPA can be requested when the ex-spouse has not paid the support for one month, whereas before they had to wait two months.

New low-cost trains to Brussels

A cheaper TGV train will be launched by Thalys on April 3rd between Paris and Brussels. Two to three round trips will run daily, with tickets sold at an opening cost of €19 or €10 for children.

Transition to HD TV

Households with a TV will receive all 25 DTT (Digital terrestrial television) channels in HD, as of April 5th, at no extra cost. The switch will occur overnight and some viewers will need to allow a scan to save the new location settings. It should mean a clearer picture and better sound.

If you have TNT via a internet box or by cable then the switch will be automatic and there's no need to worry, but if you have the old TV aerial then you'll need to buy separate equipment.

For low-income families, assistance is available up to €25, as well as home help for the elderly and disabled. Assistance of up to €250 is available for help with reception, in case you are unable to receive channels after April 5th.

 

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LIVING IN FRANCE

What’s changing about life in France in June 2019

At the beginning of each month, there are many changes in France. Here is an overview of what is coming into effect this June.

What’s changing about life in France in June 2019
Photos: AFP
Electricity prices going up
 
EDF (électricité de France) will be increasing electricity prices by 5.9 percent starting June 1st.
 
For the average household, this means that the cost of energy will increase around €85 per year, according to EDF estimations.
 
 
Photo: Sebastien SALOM-GOMIS / AFP
 
The increase was proposed on February 7th by the CRE (commission de régulation d'énergie) in order to cover rising costs, but the government decided to wait until the end of winter to apply the price hike. Several news organisations (France Info, BFMTV) also cite the role of the ‘Yellow Vest’ protests in delaying the measure.
 
Gas prices continue to fall
 
Gas prices will continue to decrease slight, by 0.45 percent, in the month of June. The reduction is part of measures taken in January to placate the 'yellow vests'. June, however, is the last month that these reductions are to be applied.
 
 
Photo: Philippe HUGUEN / AFP
 
Last chance to file taxes
 
Those living in départements numbered 50 through 976 have until midnight on Tuesday, June 4th to file their tax declaration online (everyone else should have filed already).
 
Reminder: despite the fact that it’s still necessary to file a tax return, 2018 is a “white year”, which means that, in order to avoid paying double the taxes in 2019, French taxpayers are allowed to skip 2018 except on “exceptional” income. 
 
“Exceptional” income are sums that are likely to be one-offs for 2018, like compensation for breach of contract (if the amount qualifies as taxable), one-time retirement allowances, income from stakes or profit-sharing schemes that are not part of an employee savings program and capital gains on movable or immovable assets. 
 
For more information, read our article on this year’s tax declarations in France.
 
Summer sales
 
The summer soldes (sales) will take place from Tuesday, June 26th through Tuesday, August 6th in most of France, and July 3rd through August 13th in the Alpes-Maritimes and Pyrénées-Orientales. Dates also vary slightly in overseas territories, and can be found here.
 
The dates and conduct of sales in France are strictly controlled by the Code de commerce, which permits these promotions twice a year – once in January-February, after the holidays, and once in summer. These are the only times when French retailers are allowed to sell at a loss, according to specific rules laid out by the Code de commerce.
 
 
Photo: Philippe HUGUEN / AFP
 
Consultation regarding fixed-line telephone numbers
 
The Arcep (Autorité de régulation des communications électroniques et des postes) is holding an online survey now through June 7th to ask users whether they want to be able to keep their landline telephone numbers, even when they move to a different region.
 
Currently, landline telephone users are obligated to change their numbers when the moving elsewhere in France, because these numbers are organised by region of residence (01 for Ile-de-France, 02 for the north west, etc.). Fixed-line users will now have a chance to make themselves heard on the subject.
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