Posted Nov 17, 2022, 7:15 PMUpdated on Nov 17, 2022 at 7:32 PM
This is a reassuring signal on the state of health of employers and the financing of social protection. The level of unpaid social security contributions recorded by Urssaf was in September at a level “extremely close” to that recorded before the Covid-19 crisis, according to the boss of the organization collecting Social Security resources.
“It has continued to improve since the start of 2022 even though we have negative external signals, with the war, the energy crisis”, underlines Yann-Gaël Amghar, the director general of Urssaf Caisse Nationale . The finding contrasts with the alert just sounded by employers on soaring energy bills.
In detail, the level of unpaid bills was 1.7% in September 2022. It was slightly lower, at 1.5%, in 2019, but Urssaf has only just resumed collection operations in September, which tend to reduce the level of defaults.
Getting back on track
This resumption of collection operations reflects a normalization of Urssaf operations after two years of crisis marked by massive plans for exemptions or deferrals of contributions decided to support companies. The exemptions amounted to some 4 billion euros when the postponements could reach up to 23 billion euros at the height of the storm.
To raise the bar and put the financing of social protection back on track, Urssaf has gradually put in place plans to clear the contributions due by economic players. These plans, which have been sent to some 1.6 million self-employed people and 650,000 employers, are often for eighteen months but can go up to three or even five years for the sectors most affected by the health crisis.
“It works well, assures Yann-Gaël Amghar, 80% of the plans are respected. The stock of “Covid debt”, slightly below 13 billion euros today, is thus decreasing by around 650 million euros per month. “It’s very reassuring and very positive in what it says about the cash flow situation of the self-employed and employers,” says the manager again. The end of the clearance plans is expected for 2025.
Zombie business debate
Bringing the collection of contributions back to its cruising speed is “an issue to bring in money, but it is above all an issue in terms of equity between companies and healthy competition”, underlines Yann-Gaël Amghar.
The “whatever the cost” policy implemented in the face of the crisis has made it possible to drastically reduce the number of business bankruptcies, but it has also raised the question of keeping businesses afloat that would have disappeared without the epidemic. The normalization of Urssaf collection operations should also reduce concerns about the survival of “zombie companies”.
It is also well seen in the camp of the social partners, stakeholders in the governance of Urssaf. The “situation seems quite satisfactory”, declares Pierre-Yves Chanu, vice-president of the board of directors of Urssaf Caisse nationale and member of the CGT. Social Security should see its deficit shrink to around 7 billion euros next year, amid job creation and rising wages, if the government’s scenario – an economic slowdown but no recession – is confirmed .