…work and be broke or be a social parasite? I talked recently about my sister who is a nanny, and makes about $1,800 per month. After all work related expenses, and paying another nanny to take care of her own kid, she has about $350 left. And now she is getting divorced, so on top of that she needs a $1,200 place to stay. Nothing fancy, that is what a 450sqft 1 bedroom costs 20 minutes outside of Paris those days. Her ex husband is helping a little and so are my parents but she is barely getting by.
The thing is, in France, she could stop working altogether and rely on welfare. She could get a state allowance of $938 for her and her kid for living expenses. Then she could apply for state housing, and get a similar 1 bed flat for $600, and a $325 discount on that with another state housing help. Her rent would cost $275, leaving her with $663, instead of $600 if she works and rents privately.
There would also be multiple freebies such as
– 100% free healthcare. I discussed the French healthcare system, usually you pay 30% of the cost of acts, 6.9 euros for a GP consult for example, but when you are on state benefits you don’t pay a thing.
– free transit pass. Worth $100/month for unlimited bus, tram, underground in Paris and the whole region.
– $200 bonus for Christmas
– social discount on home phone, broadband, gas and electricity, a $50 discount per month.
– no need to pay a nanny since she wouldn’t work.
– next year when the kid is off to school, school lunches will be free, and so will be after school sport and art classes (or 90% discount) where the kid usually pays depending on his/her parents’ income.
– she will also get a supplement to buy books and clothes at the beginning of the school year.
– she can access lots of museums for free, go to the swimming pool and rent a tennis court for free (yes, really!!).
– if she begs a little more, she could get the equivalent of food stamps, called social supermarket, it is a place where you shop for food at a heavy discount.
I have to say I admire my sister for not giving up. She has no chance of promotion at work and will always be a nanny, so her salary will go up with inflation and that is about it.
It is really tempting to abuse such a generous system and that is what many people do, rotting the programs that are made for EMERGENCIES ONLY. You can find people living on those benefits for most of their lives, and coming up with all kind of excuses as why they can’t work. “Too depressed”, “My hand hurts” and simply “I would make less if I worked”. Now the government is trying to set up a fair offer system, that is if they offer you a job you can do, not too far from home and decently remunerated, you must take it or lose your benefits. But that still has a long way to go.