At national level, the UNPI's request comes in a political context favourable to social housing: the French parliament adopted, in 2012, the Duflot Act (in force since January) increasing the percentage of social housing that municipalities will have to build from 20% to 25%.
The UNPI moves from a policy-based approach challenging the social housing system to a more technical attack based on the incompatibility of the financing of certain bodies with the Almunia package rules on aid for services of general economic interest (SGEIs), adopted in December 2011 and in force since 2012(1).
According to an informed source, France has allegedly challenged the amount of aid alleged by the UNPI. The association claims that Paris neglected to include accession to ownership and leasing to less favoured persons as part of its activities within the realm of SGEIs, and in non-SGEI (more commercial) activities, the leasing of commercial premises, car parks or building management, among others.
According to the UNPI, this is in total contradiction with the decision, which requires, when there are commercial activities not within the scope of SGEIs, separate accounts for these activities so that compensation is granted only for SGEI activities and so that over-compensation can be identified and reimbursed.
Public aid overcompensates the public service provision, adds the UNPI. Another weakness signalled by the association is the lack of monitoring of over-compensation at every level, which the UNPI claims is demonstrated in reports by regional audit bodies.
"With the approach of the European elections," states the invitation to the press conference, "the UNPI wishes to obtain greater transparency on the use and supervision of public funds, which must be used for housing for the most disadvantaged, without being diverted from their initial objective on the pretext of encouraging social diversity".
The UNPI's second objection concerns "misuse of the public service mission of operators providing public housing, which should only be available to low-income individuals," explains Bauvin.
Not at all, replies the UNPI, which notes that public funds are poorly allocated because French legislation obliges municipalities with more than 3,500 inhabitants to invest in public housing without taking account of real housing needs.