There are 101 of them, and all the French know them. These are departments. Their main mission: social activity. Childhood first, through Child Protection (ASE), Mother and Child Protection (PMI), adoption… People with disabilities too, with social accommodation and inclusion policies. The elderly are also with the establishment and management of nursing homes (EHPAD). Finally, social assistance legal benefits such as Active Solidarity Income (RSA).
Most of this income is paid by the departmental council through the Family Allowance Fund (CAF), but it remains nationally fixed. On April 1, 2022, the RSA payable to anyone at least 25 years of age without resources has just been increased by €15.78. In other words, €575.52 per month for a single person without children, €1,035.94 for a couple with one dependent child, and €836.28 for a single person with two children.
Trust Dialog “To Be Updated”
“I found this overestimation in the newspaper this morning. We were not informed. It’s a curious way of proceeding. We must resume a confidential dialogue,” irritated at La Tribune by François Sauvade, President of the Assembly of Departments of France (ADF).
Nine days before the first round of the presidential election, the association of elected officials has just sent 18 proposals to the candidates. These include allowing wage accumulation and RSA up to minimum wage for a maximum period of six months in stressed sectors to promote integration and reopening, or even establishing a basic income for those under 25 years of age. .
Revival of decentralization as a priority
In fact, the first concern of district council leaders remains the revival of decentralization, despite the fact that laws in this area have been in place for 40 years. The latest of these is the “3DS” for decentralization, deconcentration, differentiation and simplification of public action, unveiled by President Macron in February 2022.
However, the department presidents insist and sign: the departments must be provided with funds to implement the public policy that the law entrusts them with, they write to the applicants on April 10 and 24. For example, they hope get a general jurisdiction clauserepealed by the New Territorial Organization of the Republic (NOTRé) law in 2015, to support “directly” local economy. A skill that they no longer have after the passage of this law.
“Large regions have the competence for economic development, and we are not trying to do everything, but could we restore flexibility?”, Francois Sauvade asks.
“By supporting cafes and restaurants, by shopping, by organizing short circuits or even by agriculture, which structure local life, we can act,” insists Chairman of the Assembly of Departments.
“Five Years of Unprecedented Decline” of Local Finances
The authorities of the departmental council also hope that the next tenant of the Elysee Palace will provide them fiscal autonomy, that is, it will give them tax leverage. Or even for a future head of state to include in the Constitution a provision forbidding the government to take measures that exacerbate local spending without increasing its resources by the same amount or reducing its spending in an equivalent manner.
“We [le ministre des Comptes publics, Olivier Dussopt, Ndlr] tells us about cost control, but what does that mean? François Sauvade is angry. “We no longer have our own resources. This five-year term has already become synonymous with unprecedented failure.” hammers spokesman for departmental councils.
After the abolition of the housing tax (which was paid by all residents, ed.)departments no longer receive their share of property tax (which the owners pay, ed.) because it serves to compensate for this lack of municipal revenues. On the other hand, departmental councils continue to receive various allocations from the state, including property transfer fees (DMTOs), known as “notary fees”, that all property buyers pay.
Re-election candidate Emmanuel Macron has already announced 10 billion euros in additional savings for local authorities over the next five years, as well as the abolition of the value-added contribution of companies (CVAE), which receive, in part, departments.
” It’s called suffocation! Public investment will be punished.” ADF President Francois Sauvade is still thundering.
Guarantee of funds for the maintenance and development of roads
Finally, department presidents advocate for the provision of sustainable funding for the maintenance and development of transport infrastructure. “Today I was in Kantal. We need to maintain 4000 km of roads…”, indicates the representative of departmental councils.
In anticipation of election results in three weeks, departments are already responsible for building, maintaining and equipping colleges, managing waterways and rural roads, transporting disabled students, seaports and interiors, airfields or departmental fire and rescue services.