After several changes in his plan for a basic income, Benoit Hamon discloses another strategy targeted at younger and poor people.
In Benoit Hamon’s project, the basic income is summed up in 10 lines. However, the description on his website does not match what he stated during recent interviews for Le Monde and France 2. The French candidate for the Socialist Party built his campaign around the cash payment he would extend to all French citizens.
During an interview for the show Emission Politique, the candidate revealed the changes to his programme. His strategy is to rename the RSA (Revenu de Solidarité Active), a benefit given to those who do not have resources, and label it as universal basic income.
The main shift regardes the universal aspect of its income. It is now mainly targeted at people aged between 18 and 25 and those who earn until 1,9 smic (the minimum wage without taxes is around €1500.00 or £1300.00). The benefit will be proportional to the person’s income. If a student graduates with no salary, he/she will receive the €600. But if a worker who earns €1 200.00, he/she will earn less.
However, the basic income will not benefit young people who have an income higher than 1,9 smic.
If elected, the socialist candidate would implement this policy on 1 January 2018. It would cost the government €35bn euros. Throughout his presidency he would raise the basic income to €750 and extend it to all French citizens regardless of their gender or income.
Hamon says the the goal of the basic income is to “raise the power of acquisition, eradicate poverty and control the transitions linked to the transformation of work”.
The original plan
Formerly, the plan was divided into three steps. The RSA (Revenu de Solidarité Active), a benefit given to those who do not have resources, would raise 10% reaching €600. It would be directly given to those who are eligible.
Secondly, young people with low income aged between 18 and 25 would also receive this aid. By the end of his project every citizen regardless of its income or gender would receive a basic income of €750.
According to a study held by the Montaigne Institute, this strategy would cost €349bn.
Poverty is a reality for millions of French citizens. A study held by the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies shows that around 8m French live in poverty earning €1,008 per month.
The 2017 French budget allocated more money into the department of solidarity, integration and equality of chances. It rose from €16.9bn in 2016 to €17,65bn in 2017. However, this year the French government is heavily investing on education, representing almost 13% of the budget.
The plan of Benoit Hamon’s basic income brings up the debate about what France is effectively doing to eradicate poverty. The share for social actions and retirement represents 1.62% of France’s budget for 2017.
What is wrong with receiving money in your bank account every month? Why not? According to the Basic Income Earth Network website, basic income “is a periodic cash payment unconditionally delivered to all on an individual basis, without means test or work requirement”.
Effectively, no country or city has ever implemented the universal basic income. In 2016 Switzerland even rejected the proposal of a basic income for its population. However, the co-chair of the Basic Income Earth Network, Karl Winderquist, sees something positive about this debate. “Even though the Swiss voted against it, 23% of the population backed the plan and brought the debate into surface”.
The political philosopher defends a basic income by saying “it is selfish to deny other’s people conditions to live”. He states the first group to receive the benefit should be children aged between 0 and 10. In his opinion, single mothers are the poorest people. But targeting young adults like Hamon wants to can give them the opportunity to decide “if they want to work or keep studying”.
Credits: BERTRAND GUAY / AFP