France cracks down on ‘social fraud’, experts say it will hit poorest hard

France cracks down on ‘social fraud’, experts say it will hit poorest hard |

France is set to crack down on social and welfare fraud, public accounts Minister Gabriel Attal announced on Tuesday, while experts claim this will hit the poorest, and the government should focus on tax evasion instead.

Up to €8 billion is estimated to be lost to social fraud, which includes evading social contributions payments or overcharging medical treatments that then get reimbursed by social security services. In 2022, only €1.6 billion was recovered.

France’s Attal wants to double this amount by the end of the year.

“Social fraud, like tax evasion, is a form of hidden tax working French people have to pay”, the minister told Le Parisien on Monday.

A series of measures have been brought to the fore to keep a closer tab on people’s rights to social help and crack down on any abuse – one of which looks to merge the social security card (carte Vitale) with every citizen’s national identity card, as Portugal or Estonia have done already.

A ministerial source said that merging the two has proven to “largely” reduce abuse rates.

Furthermore, the action plan tackles the overcharging of medical practices. Though the ministry cannot be precise on how much it loses yearly to medical administrative malpractice, it expects to bring €500 million back into state coffers by year-end.

The announcements have left both experts and the opposition more than disappointed.

Vincent Drezet, a spokesman for Attac France, told French broadcaster Franceinfo that “the government’s plan […] is much more offensive than its plan to tackle tax evasion”.

In his view, the government is appealing to the right-wing conservatives hoping to build some coalition at the National Assembly. “The political class […] wants to do away with our welfare model, and point the finger at foreigners”.

Marianne Maximi, a far-left La France insoumise MP, echoed this view, accusing the government of “attacking the weakest” in the hope of a coalition agreement whilst lacking any form of ambition to curb tax evasion, costing up to €80 billion a year in lost revenues, she claims – though the number is hotly debated.

“The geopolitical reality is such that many Member States do not want to tackle head-on the issue of tax havens in Europe”, Damien Carême, a green MEP, had told EURACTIV when the French government had presented its tax evasion action plan in early May.

(Theo Bourgery-Gonse |

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