While 14 billion euros were distributed in 2020 to almost two million French companies as part of the solidarity fund to fight against the economic consequences of the health crisis, the Ministry of the Economy has identified 300 000 files “possibly fraudulent” among the aid applications filed by companies, Franceinfo learned from the Ministry of the Economy. These suspicious files are the subject of further investigations by the services of Bercy.
This solidarity fund, set up at the start of the crisis to pay 1,500 euros to small businesses, is clearly a victim of its success and is now helping large structures. 5 300 euros on average were paid per month to two million companies, a total of 14 Billions of Euro’s.
While a certain climate of confidence reigned at the start of the pandemic, given the substantial number of hundreds of thousands of cases “possibly fraudulent”, controls will become systematic in companies receiving aid of 30,000 euros or more. In addition, since more than 100,000 files arrive every day and this leads to payment delays, Bruno Le Maire has announced a strengthening of its teams with 250 hiring of contract workers, to better keep up with the pace and check that requests for assistance are justified.
Overall, the government is announcing a turn of the screw in companies, with the threat of no longer supporting restaurateurs who would open despite the bans, responding in particular to the call of Stéphane Turillon, restaurateur du Doubs, wishing a “symbolic reopening” to warn about the consequences of health restrictions.
The same change in tone takes place in the processing of partial unemployment files – device also victim of its success with 27 billion euros paid in 2020. Several investigations are underway at the Directorate General of Labor to verify requests, although cheating represents less than 1% of the total amount allocated, according to the Ministry of Labor. Certainly, a few people have gone so far as to create false profiles of employees or even companies to collect funds, but most of them are errors in the way the files were completed. In any case, Elisabeth Borne estimates that the government was able to recover 90% of the money unduly paid.
Regarding sick leave, employers’ organizations feared that employees would benefit from it, but this was not the case. After three weeks of automating work stoppages for Covid-19, the Health Insurance only records 3,000 per day on average – a sign that the French do not abuse this system, which allows them to stop at the first suspicion of symptom. In general, the duration of these stops is less than two days, the time to do tests and to isolate oneself. Health Insurance draws a positive conclusion, believing that this system is effective in stopping the virus.