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13 January 2022
The main instrument for combating poverty, the active solidarity income (RSA) is now allocated to more
than two million households with annual expenditure of €15 billion
- the health crisis having increased the
risk of precariousness. The report published today assesses the results of this system, which has never been
assessed in its entirety since 2011, despite the continuous increase in the number of beneficiaries and its
importance in social and financial terms. This work, led by the Court of Auditors and ten regional and
territorial chambers, is based on national investigations and surveys carried out in nine departments, each
of which illustrates a specific situation: Allier, Aude, Bas-Rhin, Gironde, Ille-et-Vilaine, Martinique, Pas-de-
Calais, Réunion and Seine-Saint-Denis. Carried out by relying on numerous databases, this ambitious
evaluation identifies the successes of the RSA, such as protection against extreme poverty, and proposes
three main pathways to remedy the weaknesses of the system.
A complex institutional and financial framework
Associating a large number of stakeholders (funders, decision-makers and operators), the institutional
framework of the RSA is unclear for beneficiaries, and its coordination is difficult. In addition, its funding has
been weakened by the almost uninterrupted increase in the number of beneficiaries since the creation of the
system (+ 46% beneficiaries between 2009 and 2019). Coupled with the revaluations of the amounts paid, this
increase explains why total annual p
ublic expenditure reached €15 billion in 2019. However, since 2009, a gap
continues to widen between the increase in revenue and that of expenditure payable by departments, in a
very differentiated way depending on the territories. The Court considers that
an “à la carte” recentralisation
of benefit funding borne by central government does not provide a sustainable response to an issue that
affects all departments. The latter must be bolstered in their role as managers of the RSA, and the key funding
ent must be revised in accordance with the principle of “funder = decision
A “core target” population that does not benefit sufficiently from the RSA
Unlike other basic social welfare benefits specialised by public, the RSA is intended to address the entire
population of working age, from the age of 25. However, with coverage rates of approximately 70% for the
benefit component, and 40% for the support component, the RSA does not sufficiently benefit the people for
whom it is intended. While fraud only marginally affects the number of beneficiaries, it does have a significant
impact on the amounts paid, with €190 million of undue expenditure detected in 2019
corresponding to €1
billion of potential fraud in 2019.
Effective protection against extreme poverty
Consistently since 2010, 65% of RSA beneficiaries live below the poverty line
a share more than four times
higher than in the general population. This situation results from the amounts guaranteed by the benefit,
which are below the monetary poverty line. It reflects the choice made on establishment of the RSA that it is
paid work that is intended to sustainably keep people out of poverty. Although it is not enough to cross the
poverty line, the RSA does, however, make it possible to reduce its intensity, and effectively protects its
beneficiaries against
extreme poverty
in the statistical sense of the term (corresponding to 40% of the
national median income, compared to 60% for the poverty line), since only 16% suffer from it.
A return to employment goal not achieved for nearly two thirds of its
The major innovation of the RSA lies in its incentive mechanism: in the case of work, the beneficiary of the RSA
no longer sees their benefit reduced on the basis of their total income, but only on 38% of it. In fact, the RSA
has virtually eliminated “unemployment traps” –
which is one of its greatest successes. On the other hand,
access to employment remains particularly difficult for beneficiaries. The rate of return to employment (3.9%
per month in 2019) is much lower than that of the average job seeker (8.2%). Moving into employment is also
more precarious. In total, seven years after a cohort of recipients first benefited from the RSA, only 34% have
left it and are in work
and only a third of them are in stable employment.
Support for beneficiaries: a major failure of the system
It is estimated, moreover,
that 40% of beneficiaries do not have a support contract
a document that is nevertheless mandatory for
formalising the respective commitments of the public authorities and the beneficiary. When it does exist,
support is often unsuited to the specific difficulties of RSA recipients. Thus, those who are monitored by Pôle
emploi benefit from less than one service per year on average, of the workshop or training type. For
beneficiaries monitored directly by the departments, the finding is similar:
Read the report, executive summaries and territorial requirements
Emmanuel Kessler
Communication Director
01 42 98 55 62
Julie Poissier
Head of press relations
+33 (0)1 42 98 97 43
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