With the map of the 1,300 priority neighbourhoods unveiled at the end of May, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, the Minister for Women’s Rights, Urban Policy, Youth, and Sports, wishes to accelerate the implementation of the new urban policy. While 5 billion euros will be spent on urban renewal, the Minister also plans to “pull out all the stops on employment” by channelling 600 million euros from the future investment programme towards sensitive areas.
Following two field visits (one to Vandœuvre-lès-Nancy on 22 April, the other to Amiens on 28 April), Najat Vallaud-Belkacem was able to unveil the roadmap of her ministry for urban policy.
This was also an opportunity to recall that she was acting in accordance with her ministerial brief to fulfil a strong presidential commitment: to re-establish republican equality for the residents of poorer neighbourhoods.
Timetable and action sheet: things to remember
Act without waiting for reform of priority geography: the new map of the 1,300 priority neighbourhoods (compared with 2,500 previously) will be known at the end of May. A single unique, legible, transparent criterion has been used to formulate this new map: the income of inhabitants. This method of identifying social problems is currently being validated by the Council of State. The objective: to focus the government resources in order to ensure more effective action.
Launch the preparation of “unique urban contracts” (2014-2020) before the summer: this new unique contract, which is part of the urban policy reform law, will pool resources, eliminate duplication, and mobilise all agents (the central government, local authorities, the French employment agency, the French family allowance fund, businesses, associations).
Launch the new urban renewal programme before the end of the year: 5 billion euros has already been set aside for this purpose between now and 2017, which will facilitate the mobilisation of 20 billion euros. The objective: to bring an end to mechanisms for segregation.
Raise 600 million euros from the future investment programme with the Caisse des Dépôts for neighbourhood economic development (private investment, business incubators, nursing homes).
“Pull out all the stops on employment”
In a letter sent to mayors, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem explained that “urban policy cannot succeed if it does not make a full commitment to creating employment opportunities”. The economic crisis has hit the suburbs hardest: at present, “employment levels in sensitive urban areas are 18 percentage points lower than in other areas”. The Minister plans to reduce this figure by half.
“To move forward, we must set ambitious objectives: this will mobilise all partners”, she writes. “Renewing the physical environment of an area will never be enough if the same social problems persist.”
Free zones and emplois francs (a new type of subsidised employment) whose increase in use has been unsatisfactory, will be reconsidered as part of a new territorialisation of employment.
“I will use all tools at my disposal, emphasise assistance for the mobility of young people, promote apprenticeships and sandwich courses, and draw on expertise from the field”. Other tools include further reinforcing the presence of the French employment agency and local missions, supporting the creation of businesses thanks to the “Neighbourhood entrepreneurs” plan with the BPI, and more effectively combat discrimination in employment, discussing with social partners the prospect of filing a French-style class action in this area.