Right-wing opposition parliamentarians in France have been accused of stigmatizing the poorest people by suggesting that low-income families are fraudulently using an allowance for school supplies.
Government spokesman Olivier Véran said claims that some families spent the money on televisions and alcohol were “discrimination” and “old nonsense”. He rejected suggestions that parents should receive basic supplies or coupons for specific stores to reduce the possibility of fraud.
“The back-to-school subsidy is useful and fair. It is a precious help for 3 million families to finance the children’s material and cover the costs of the start of the school year. Stop stigmatizing them,” Veran tweeted.
Fourteen deputies from the opposition Les Républicains party introduced a bill aimed at “controlling the use of the school supply allowance and combating fraud” earlier this month.
The signatories pointed to the “absence of controls on what the money is spent on,” saying that this allowed recipients to “use this benefit for purposes other than the educational needs of their children.”
Instead, they want families to receive a set of basic school supplies for each child, along with “vouchers that allow parents to buy clothing or equipment necessary for their schooling.” Most French schools do not insist on uniforms.
Laurence Rossignol, a former minister for families and now vice-president of the Parti Socialiste (PS) in the upper house of the Senate, said allegations of fraud by parents were “an old annual problem”.
“Every year parents are accused of buying flat-screen TVs, new tires for their cars, smart phones… it’s the same old story of poor people drinking their benefit money,” Rossignol said.
Another critic of the proposals, Sandrine Rousseau, MP for the Europe, Ecology, Les Verts (EELV) party, added: “Behind this proposal there are doubts about the ability of the poorest parents to care for their children. And this is serious.
The annual list of school furniture (school supplies) is an end-of-summer headache for parents of school-age children. Students are expected to arrive on the first day of the September term with the exact number, size and color of notebooks, pens, pencils and folders specified by the various teachers. At this time of year, supermarkets and stationery stores are full of frustrated parents looking for packs of single/double A4 paper with small/large squares perforated/unperforated.
For low-income families, the cost is eased by the subsidy, paid in August, to parents with at least one school-age child. This year’s allowance has been increased by 4% to account for inflation and amounts to €392.04 (£332) for each child under 10, €413.69 for each child aged 11-14 and €428.02 for each child between the ages of 15 and 18. It is paid to households whose income is less than €25,730 with one child, €31,225 with two children, €37,080 with three and €42,935 with four or more.
In addition to the school allowance, the French government has approved an “exceptional” extra payment of €100 (£85) plus €50 (£42) for each child to families with minimum income in September to help with the increase in the cost of school. life.