October 16, 2021

the government wants to target the most affected sectors

The return to school is off to a flying start at Bercy. After a summer marked by demonstrations against the health pass, the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire and the Minister of Labor Elisabeth Borne are due to receive this Monday morning a myriad of representatives from the hotel industry, catering cafes, tourism or even events. In the afternoon, representatives of the world of culture are expected at the Ministry of Finance for a meeting with the Minister of Culture Roselyne Bachelot.

All these sectors are affected directly or indirectly by the pandemic and the application of health measures. The entry into force of this sesame at the beginning of August amplified fears in a large number of establishments already affected by 18 months of health crisis. According to Bercy, this is to take stock of the economic situation of these sectors and state aid. Most economic and financial circles expect a change in government doctrine. At the Medef summer university last week, the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire clearly expressed this new approach already announced by the Head of State Emmanuel Macron during the summer. During the health crisis, “we did not count public money because it was responsible for doing so. But now that the French economy is restarting, that we have growth prospects at 6%, the ‘whatever the cost ‘ It’s finish”, said Mr. Le Maire. “All the work we have done with companies and employees is yielding results […] The level of unemployment has returned to its pre-crisis level “ he added on the antenna of France Inter this Monday morning. “It is about moving from a general and flat-rate aid system to tailor-made. […] There will be no aid ax “, he nevertheless qualified in the face of the fear expressed.

Towards a tightening of aid in the most fragile sectors

Unsurprisingly, the Minister of the Economy, accompanied by several other ministers, should announce tighter targeting on sectors in difficulty. “We will look at those who have lost turnover during this health crisis, during this month of health pass and we will help those who have lost money because of health regulations”, promised the minister. Indeed, many establishments were still subject to a number of restrictions during the summer when the fourth wave of the Delta variant put pressure on some hospital services. These are mainly cafes and restaurants, cultural places or large shopping centers.

Already in June, the government had already closed part of the aid tap by lowering the support for partial activity by the State and Unedic. The partial activity scheme, which helped preserve jobs and skills during the worst recession that France has experienced since 1945, cost 34.4 billion euros at the end of April. In addition, the solidarity fund also underwent some adjustments at the beginning of June. The future of this fund, which has cost nearly 35 billion euros since March 2020 and benefited more than two million companies, will also be on the table. Finally, exemptions or reductions in social contributions for SMEs and the self-employed are also due to end on Tuesday. With the introduction of the health pass, however, requests for aid are no longer limited to sectors which still benefited from emergency aid.

Health pass compulsory in all companies: “this is not the case”, says Castex

Contrasting situations

“We are ready to help the sectors that really need it, with a system that is necessarily transitory, very sectoral”, but it is necessary “to look at what is the reality of the losses compared to what is said”, summed up Sunday on Radio J the Minister of Public Accounts Olivier Dussopt.

Representatives of cafes, restaurants, hotels and nightclubs said on Friday that their summer activity had fallen by 20% compared to summer 2019, and are calling for an extension of aid. According to them, the implementation of the health pass on August 9 caused a drop in activity among 80% of cafetiers and restaurateurs. The situations are very disparate, however, with a large quarter of restaurant owners who experienced a growing summer, with an average increase in sales of 20% compared to 2019, while the tourism situation in the Paris region is far from having returned to its normal. pre-crisis level.

Self-employed workers and self-employed people also reported a great disparity in the situation within them. Their representatives were received on Wednesday by Mr. Griset, who is preparing a plan of lasting measures in their favor which should be presented in September.