Solidarity: France hands €500 million of Christmas bonuses to country’s poorest

The French state is living up to its famed principle of "solidarité" once again, by handing out Christmas bonuses to 2.3 million of the country's most hard up individuals. But it's not all good news.

Solidarity: France hands €500 million of Christmas bonuses to country's poorest
Photo: AFP

A longstanding French tradition is once again being fulfilled this week.

In the name of solidarity France will hand out its traditional Christmas bonus to those most in need.

This week the French state will share out around €500 million between 2.3 million people. 

The amount each person will receive hasn't changed for the last four years, meaning individuals will receive €152.45 and couples with two children will get €320.14.

The idea of the festive bonus, called a Prime de Noel is to help poor families put food on the table and buy gifts for their children. 

It was brought in under the former Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin in 1988.

So the prime has nothing to do with the recent concessions President Emmanuel Macron made after the violent yellow vest protests, which included a hike in the minimum wage.

It is “a boost for the most modest, a few days before the holidays,” was how a previous social affairs minister described the handout.

The bonus is primarily earmarked for French people on various kinds of unemployment benefits such as the Revenue de Solidarité Active (RSA) and who don’t have any other assets.

Although the bonus was confirmed last week by the government, authorities have declined to raise the amount given to households.

But not everyone will get the same amount.

Everything depends on three criteria: what kind of benefits the person is on, whether that recipient is in a couple or single, and how many children they are in charge of.

The amount of €152.45 is paid out to individuals who are not in a couple and have no children. Single parents get €228 as do a couple with no children.

Single parents with two children will get €274 and those with three children get €335. Single parents who have four children in their care will receive €396.

Couples with one child get €274 and €442 if they have four children.

The beneficiaries don’t have to do any kind of paperwork to claim the money as it will be transferred automatically.

But while the show of solidarity with France’s poorest can be welcomed, the bad news for the state, which is under pressure to cut its public spending, is that far more individuals are set to receive the bonus than in previous years.

In December 2014, the prime de Noël was paid out to around 1.83 million people.  However this year the number of beneficiaries will top 2.3 million, although last year the number of people who received the bonus was around 2.5 million.

A worrying report released in November detailed the growing levels of poverty in France.

The new report published by French charity the Secours Catholique showed that society's most vulnerable groups are getting poorer. 
The report showed that women are still more vulnerable to poverty than men and foreigners without legal status account for a large number of those living in poverty in France as do the elderly. 
In total there were around 8.8 million people living below the poverty line in France in 2017. In France this means they are living on an income of less than €1,026 a month, and many of them live on considerably less.

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