“Misery is less painful in the sun,” sang Aznavour. Certainly, faced with the frost of winter, it is not good to be poor. The National Energy Poverty Observatory (Onpe) has just recalled this in its “Dashboard 2020”: at least 3.5 million low-income households are having difficulty paying their energy bills in France, and this should not get better. The health crisis “raises fears of an explosion in unpaid bills and requests for assistance from social services,” the report said.
Rise in prices, fall in aid
Since 2011, Onpe has been analyzing the “rate of French energy effort”, ie the share of energy expenditure in income. Above 8%, you are considered fuel insecure. In 2019, 11.9% of the population was in this case, 30% among the poorest. These figures are slightly better compared to 2018, but only due to milder winter temperatures. The rise in energy prices, coupled with the erosion of purchasing power, suggests darker days, especially as financial aid (energy checks, etc.) is falling.
“Keeping your home implies for these (modest) households arbitrations, renouncements, deprivation (…) to avoid debt, energy cuts and evictions”, notes the president of Onpe and former PS deputy , Arnaud Leroy. As for confinements, they will further complicate the equation: in spring 2020, Enedis observed a 4% increase in consumption by individuals, due to the strengthening of heating, lighting, meals prepared at home or the increased use of digital technology.