Are there more “purchases of flat screens in September”, as Jean-Michel Blanquer says?

Jean-Michel Blanquer was the guest of France 3 on Sunday August 29. (CAPTURE ECERAN FRANCE 3)

The back-to-school allowance is financial assistance of just under 400 euros per child. It was paid in mid-August to three million low-income families in France. The aim is to help them pay for school supplies before the start of the school year. But this money is not always used for that, according to the Minister of National Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer. “We know very well, if we look things in the face, that there are purchases screens more important dishes in September than at other times “, he said on France 3 Sunday, August 29.

This theory has been refuted by several studies of the Family Allowance Fund, responsible for paying this financial assistance. Since the 1990s, the Caf has repeatedly questioned some of its beneficiaries to find out how the money is spent. The last survey dates back to 2013 and it tells us that 95% of parents used the back-to-school allowance for school supplies and clothing. Next come insurance, canteen, transport and sports expenses.

Although this poll is old, its findings are similar to previous studies. They show that most of this aid is well used for children. The only Caf survey that evokes misappropriation of money dates back to 1994. In this study, 4% of families said they spent the money differently. Clearly, if diversions are still possible, they are extremely marginal.

This is not the first time that these comments on the back-to-school allowance have been made. In recent years, several deputies have proposed replacing the back-to-school allowance with vouchers to avoid any abuse, according to them.

These proposals have always been rejected. For example, in 2017 in the Senate, the then Minister of Health, Agnès Buzyn, found this solution more expensive and more restrictive than a simple transfer. She also asserted that there is “no serious study” which proves that the allowance is “used for other purposes than for the start of the school year”.