France extends Covid-19 anti-poverty scheme to include young people

Previously excluded, young people in a precarious economic situation can now benefit from the French government's Covid-19 poverty scheme.

France extends Covid-19 anti-poverty scheme to include young people
French Prime Minister Jean Castex/ Photo: AFP

Some 400,000 young people will get access to the scheme, which provides low-income individuals in France with €150 extra a month, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced on Sunday.

“We are fully aware that when an economic crisis strikes, it first and foremost hits those in a precarious situation and young people,” Castex said in an interview with Journal du dimanche.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced the “exceptional aid” scheme as a measure to counter poverty during his speech to the nation on Wednesday.

The scheme tops up the monthly aid extended to those in France on the RSA low-income aid scheme, by €150 extra per month, plus €100 per child.

But but the president's announcement it became clear that the scheme would not include those aged between 18 and 25, unless they were parents.

The Fondation Abbé-Pierre, which fights poverty in France, criticised the government for leaving its young population behind.

“The government needs to refocus its target,” General Director Christophe Robert told France Info during the interview last week.

Now, young people who benefit from the scheme known as aides personnalisées au logement (personalised housing help) will be included in the scheme along with students on a scholarship.

They will get €150 per month alongside their APL aid, plus €100 extra per child.

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France warns winter gas cuts possible

The French government warned Wednesday that companies might have to reduce energy use this winter even with the country's natural gas reserves at full capacity, as Russia continues to reduce its gas exports to Europe.

France warns winter gas cuts possible

“The main players, government agencies and businesses, must reduce their consumption” of gas as well as electricity, because “the two systems are linked,” Energy Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher told CNews television.

Moscow has slashed its exports to Europe in response to punishing Western sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces, forcing countries to scramble for alternatives.

Even though France is less reliant on Russian supplies than other EU countries, generating around three-quarters of its electricity from nuclear power plants, its industrial sector still relies on gas and millions of people use it to heat their homes.

Winter shortfalls will be a risk even though France is racing to top up its gas reserves.

“Right now our strategic gas reserves are at 80 percent capacity… which means we will reach our goal of 100 percent before November 1,” Pannier-Runacher said.

But she later insisted on RMC radio that full stocks might not be enough to avoid gas cuts as the government seeks alternative sources.

“It’s not so simple… We might have a particularly cold day and because of the size of the pipelines, we can’t pump all of the gas we have,” she said.

And France is also facing a winter with fewer of its nuclear plants online because of either maintenance or safety concerns, meaning that electricity supplies could be strained.

“We are counting on solidarity, notably with Germany, to import electricity,” she said. “And we need to support Germany with the gas we import via our liquefied natural gas terminals.”