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Due to the health crisis, the sharp increase in social action spending in the departments

In 2020, as a result of the health crisis and its economic and social repercussions, the social spending of the departments crossed, for the first time, the 40 billion euros mark, according to the annual study by the Observatory of the social action (ODAS) and La Banque Postale published Thursday, October 21. Net expenditure increased by 1.6 billion euros (+ 4.2%) compared to the previous year, from 38.6 to 40.2 billion euros. At the same time, the State’s participation, excluding inflation, remained almost stable (+ 1.4%): it represents an amount of 8.4 billion euros. Result: the net charge borne by the departments increased by 1.5 billion euros (+ 4.9%), to reach 31.8 billion euros.

These social expenditures are made up of four main blocks of intervention: social assistance for children – including care for unaccompanied minors (unaccompanied minors) – people with disabilities, dependent elderly people and insertion, in particular through the active solidarity income (RSA). It is the latter that has experienced the strongest growth. Net expenditure related to the RSA increased by 725 million euros (+ 7%): it reached 11.1 billion euros. The financial contribution of the State having remained stable (5.6 billion euros), the remainder to be paid by the departments jumped by 15%. It alone represents half of the additional social action burden for the departments in 2020.

More RSA beneficiaries

The Covid crisis has led to an increase in the number of RSA beneficiaries by 7.5%, reaching nearly 1.8 million. However, recognizes the general delegate of ODAS, Didier Lesueur, “If the government had not taken measures to support the economy, in particular in the context of partial unemployment, the impact would have been even stronger”. The resumption of economic activity has made it possible to record, since December 2020, a significant drop in RSA staff. However, underlines the ODAS, the end of government aid measures and the increase in the number of companies in difficulty could lead to an influx of new requests.

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“Faced with this sharp increase in needs, the departments risk being less well equipped to be able to respond”, notes the president of the ODAS, Jean-Louis Sanchez. The gap continues to widen between allocation spending transferred to departments and state allocations. As long as the State financed the minimum integration income (RMI), then the RSA, the departments were only responsible for integration expenses. When, in 2004, the management of the allowance was transferred to them, the State grants had to cover the entire expenditure. They now represent just over half.

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