This is only its second edition but, in the current context, the Day against energy poverty is likely to make a greater impression than a year ago.
“The idea was to have a symbolic date, a benchmark to alert public opinion to the phenomenon, to make concrete solutions visible and to try to consolidate them”, testified Christophe Robert, general delegate of the Abbé Pierre Foundation (FAP ), during a symposium held on Wednesday 23 November in Paris to launch the Day against fuel poverty on 24 November.
An invisible precariousness…
The Minister of Housing, Olivier Klein, came to open the symposium and testify to his awareness of the need to fight against this “unrecognized phenomenon which affects millions of French people. »
“Energy poverty is poverty that cannot be seen. But they have multiple consequences,” he said. Economic consequences, for households who have to make the unbearable choice between eating and heating, consequences on their physical and mental health, social consequences, with the isolation in which they lock themselves up, environmental consequences.
…and getting worse
About 12 million households are in fuel poverty. With a rapid deterioration of the situation, according to Christophe Robert: “In 2021, 22% of French people said they had suffered from the cold at home for at least 24 hours. This percentage was 14% in 2020,” he said.
The president of the Union sociale pour l’habitat, Emmanuelle Cosse, issued an alert on the likely increase in figures: “With the increase in energy costs, people who were not in fuel poverty will switch there. Even in low-energy housing, many people above the threshold for the energy check will fall into fuel poverty, with the increase in charges. »
Strong demand for targeted measures
While Olivier was selling the tariff shield which protects the French, and which will mobilize 45 billion euros in 2023, Emmanuelle Cosse pointed out the inconsistencies. Based on the individual contract with the supplier, this shield protects, for example, the occupants of a second home, but not the tenants of a collectively heated HLM.
Most stakeholders called for more targeted measures. The main claim of the DPF – triple the amount of the energy voucher to reach 750 euros.
“We must also increase the APL by 10%, which would return to levels before the major cuts, while integrating inflation,” pleaded Christophe Robert. Finally, he wanted the flat rate “charges” for housing aid to be doubled.
Lamented absence of communities
One of the regrets that one could have when attending the colloquium was the total absence of representatives of local authorities – partially excused by the concomitance with the Congress of Mayors – especially since they, in particular the departments and municipalities, participate strongly in the fight against fuel poverty.
Florine Siganos, head of the SOS Taudis program at the FAP, recalled the essential role of the municipal centers for social action (CCAS) in identifying the groups concerned.
As for the departments and the metropolises, they intervene to help households in difficulty through the Housing Solidarity Funds (FSL) that they manage. Their absence was all the more regrettable as the FSL were sharply criticized.
FSLs to simplify
Frédérique Fériaud, director of the Energy Mediator, deplored the complexity of the current operation.
“It’s not working well. FSL aid passes through suppliers, who are compensated. The objective is to enter into agreements in all departments, with all suppliers. EDF, Engie, are used to it. But there are no conventions everywhere, and not all providers supply the FSLs,” she explained. Emmanuelle Cosse, she wished “that the FSL be strengthened”.
Are the departments on track?
On the State side, the will had not been lacking. Frédérique Fériaud recalled the measure taken by Emmanuelle Wargon, former Minister of Housing, to supplement the FSL up to 30 million euros, on the principle – one euro paid by the State, one euro by the community. It was in April 2021, after a year of health crisis and confinements.
In a report, the deputy (LREM) Nicolas Dumoulin, had raised fears of 30,000 post-Covid expulsions (there had been around 16,000 in 2019). Emmanuelle Wargon had proposed a reinforcement of the FSL. Now president of the Energy Regulation Commission (CRE), she also spoke at the symposium.
“We had a lot of trouble agreeing, signing with each department that had to modify the rules of procedure of its FSL,” she testified. On the sidelines of the symposium, she confided that there would only be 3 to 4 million euros out of the 30 million planned which would have been contracted.
“Housing First” under threat
Emmanuelle Cosse raised a well-founded question: fuel poverty could impact the Housing First plan, renewed, and prevent it from achieving its objectives. She testified to the difficulty of the allocation commissions to bring the target audiences into the PLAI (Integrated assisted rental loans), the most accessible social housing.
“We calculate the share of rents and charges in household income. How to bring the Housing First public, beneficiaries of minimum social benefits, into a PLEASE ? she wondered.
Finally, the energy renovation of buildings was the subject of a large part of the symposium, as a means of combating energy poverty in the long term.
A surprise bill that toughens the squat treatment policy
Submitted to the National Assembly on October 18 by the majority deputy, Guillaume Kasbarian, it burst into the debates.
“This PPL is unexpected. She has been extending the squat offense to vacant apartment buildings for years. It makes any occupation of residential premises a theft,” worried Manuel Domergue, director of studies at the FAP, on the sidelines of the conference. The text is to be discussed in open session on Monday, November 28.