The Assembly’s Committee on Sustainable Development has examined the obstacles to the generalization of the social pricing of water throughout the territory. It provides several recommendations for lifting them.
” Since the launch of the Brottes Act of 15 April 2013 and despite the generalization at the end of 2019, local authorities have not massively seized the opportunity to experiment with a social water tariff “, Noted Lionel Causse, Deputy of the La République en Marche des Landes, on the occasion of the presentation of the conclusions of his flash mission on the results of this experiment, on Wednesday 23 February. To improve access to water, the Brottes Act had in fact enabled about fifty communities to test tariffs that take into account household composition or income, but also financial support for the payment of water bills. To fund the system, the law exceptionally allowed participants to spend their regular budget or undergo a 2% increase in the amount of the grant awarded to the Solidarity Fund for Housing.
Because if the water bill seems to weigh less on the budget than other services, this expense for some households – in a precarious situation – can still make up almost 3% of their income.
The system was then opened to all communities interested in the Commitment and Proximity Act in 2019. Without the great success. According to the flash mission, 41 communities would then have continued their approach by 2020.
Last January, the Assembly’s Committee on Sustainable Development asked Hubert Wulfranc, deputy of the Seine-Maritime Communist Party, and Lionel Causse to make an assessment. Initially, the two deputies thought of thinking of a potential commitment to this pricing. However, faced with the reluctance of the elected officials, they turned to a search for levers that allow a generalization of the social pricing of water.
Several barriers to implementation
An ambitious goal given the reality of the place. Because the experimenting local authorities have pointed out a number of major obstacles to the implementation of this pricing. ” This policy seems complex to implement and relatively difficult to readlocated Lionel Causse. It must also articulate with the environmental challenge, which presupposes a justified use of the resource and the maintenance of the economic viability of the service; “.
One of the biggest difficulties remains the identification of beneficiaries with problems with access to data held by the social security authorities. ” Setbacks have even been reported in some areas since the end of the experiment: for example, CPAM in Vendée refuses to transfer the updated files from the recipients to Vendée eau’s servicessaid MP. Sometimes situations vary within the same territory ”. Technical difficulties can also complicate the situation: when e.g. the name of the subscriber is not what appears in the file for social organizations (especially in collective habitats).
Other limitations: some sometimes high administrative costs for the community and a large number of recipients who do not want to take advantage of this benefit. ” The proportion of non-application of the law is particularly high, as long as the amount of aid is low – between 10 and 150 euros per year -, the provisions are only slightly known to users when the aid is declarative, the procedures to be performed are heavy, developed Lionel Causse. But also the fear of being stigmatized or being subject to control makes people in vulnerable situations give up their rights ”.
Suggestions for acceleration
However, the two MPs identified ways to facilitate the implementation of social water pricing. ” Before any generalization, our first recommendation is to establish an action plan to improve the conditions of access to water in each community. “emphasized Hubert Wulfranc.
The two members of parliament believe that two preconditions must be met for the measures implemented to be effective: Firstly, precise knowledge of the use and ways of water consumption, as well as indicators of water insecurity. They then call for the development of a national depot that serves as a methodological guide for the actions of local authorities. ” Today there are many sources of information: The toolbox set up by the Ministry of Ecological Transformation, the best practice club run bythe Water Information Center, on , remarked Hubert Wulfranc. It is advisable to develop a national platform that maps all the local authorities involved in a social water policy. The existence of a reading grid – which could take the form of a flowchart – would allow local authorities to identify the most appropriate measures according to local characteristics ”.
Fixed support for payment or modulation of the water price, among the many options to help pay the bill, MEPs are in favor of progressive prices with three price ranges: from 0 to 80 m.3 for “necessary water” at a low price, from 80 to 200 m3 for “useful water” at a rate lower than the cost of services and the final rate of consumption of more than 200 m3 at a rate aimed at balancing the budget for services. According to them, this pricing should be combined with financial support if the water bill remains above 3% of the income of some households. ” Setting up progressive pricing only makes sense if the fixed portion of the bill is not too highhowever, Hubert Wulfranc moderated. Although this fixed part is optional, it amounts to an average of 58 euros / year and can reach 156 euros – and this without consuming the slightest taste of water. “.
MEPs also believe that automatic access to financial assistance is crucial to its dissemination. They also call for a harmonization of the price of water after the “pool of life”.
A draft decree to better identify recipients
” There are no legal barriers to data transfer as the GDPR does not prohibit the exchange of data, nor does it cross-reference files that correspond to a public service missionsaid Lionel Causse. However, the frame is complex and lacks precision. According to the latest information from, a draft decree of the Council of State is currently being prepared. We want to make sure that it is taken as soon as possible and that it precisely defines the list of personal data that can be transferred to the services, as well as the methods of making this information available. “.
MEPs also recommend that the introduction of financial support be linked to communication and information campaigns on rational water consumption.
” It is important to detect water leaks so that social pricing is not used to compensate for overpricing due to leaks. ”pointed out Lionel Causse.
Another proposal from the mission: to entrust local authorities with competence in the field of prevention. They also want people who are not connected or living in informal settlements to be taken into account. ” The establishment ofseems to be a solution to answer this complex question “, Suggested Lionel Causse.
Article published February 24, 2022