Right-wing opposition MPs in France have been accused of stigmatizing poorer people by suggesting that low-income families are fraudulently using a school supply allowance.
Government spokesman Olivier Véran said allegations that some families were spending money on TV and alcohol were “discrimination” and “an old chestnut”. He rejected suggestions that parents should receive basic supplies or vouchers for specific stores to reduce the risk of fraud.
“The back-to-school allowance is useful and fair. It is a precious aid for 3 million families to finance children’s supplies and cover back-to-school expenses. Stop stigmatizing them,” Veran tweeted.
Fourteen deputies from the opposition party Les Républicains tabled a bill at the beginning of the month aimed at “regulating the use of the school supply allowance and combating fraud”.
The signatories pointed to “the lack of control over what the money is spent on”, saying that this allowed beneficiaries “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, as well as “vouchers allowing parents to buy clothes or materials needed for their schooling”. Most French schools do not insist on uniforms.
Laurence Rossignol, the former family minister, now vice-president of the Socialist Party (PS) in the upper house of the Senate, said allegations of fraud by parents were an “old annual chestnut”.
“Every year parents are accused of buying flat screen televisions, new wheels for their cars, smartphones…it’s the same old story of poor people drinking their benefit money,” said Nightingale.
Another critic of the proposals, Sandrine Rousseau, MP for the Europe, Ecology, The Greens (EELV) party, added: “Behind this proposal are doubts about the ability of the poorest parents to take care of their children. And it’s serious. »
The annual list of school supplies (school supplies) is an end-of-summer puzzle for parents of school-aged children. Students are expected to arrive for the first day of term in September 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 stationers are full of frustrated parents looking for single/double A4 paper packs with small/large perforated/unperforated squares.
For low-income families, the cost is alleviated by the allowance, paid in August, to parents with at least one school-age child. This year’s allowance has been increased by 4% to take account of inflation and amounts to €392.04 (£332) for each child under 10, €413.69 for each child aged 11 to 14 years old and €428.02 for each child from 15 to 18 years old. 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 children.
In addition to the school allowance, the French government approved an additional ‘exceptional’ payment of €100 (£85) plus €50 (£42) for each child to families on minimum income in September to help with the rising cost of life.