In late August 2008, after several months of wavering in which the projected law perhaps seemed doomed, French president Nicolas Sarkozy officially announced the introduction of a new scheme for assisting those in difficult or marginal situations, the so-called Active Solidarity Income. He also announced a timetable for the measure and how it would be funded. About four million French homes suffering from unemployment or casual employment (including 1.5 million "working poor"), or those on income support, should, he said, be affected by the measure. It is to come into force in July 2009 and will be debated in the French parliament from 22 September 2008 onwards, a few days before the publication of this issue.
Chantal Euzéby takes stock of the scheme here and reminds us how necessary it is for the benefits muddle to be reviewed and simplified, so that social benefits can recover their basic role of returning the groups concerned to work. She outlines the project for merging the various benefits, but also raises some questions that remain unanswered, concerning, for example, which social security scheme will apply to the beneficiaries, the index-linking of the new provision, and the decisions to be made over the "reinsertion" strand, particularly regarding the division of responsibilities between the state and the local authorities.