The RSI social security insurance fund for the self-employed is accused of being in a ‘state of paralysis’ by the French Ombudsman.
According to Jean Paul Delevoye, the Médiateur de la République, over the past year there has been ‘an unprecedented increase in the number of complaints about the Régime Social des Indépendants (RSI).’
The agency is accused of making a number of fundamental technical errors, which the Mediator considers to be ‘incomprehensible’ and which he considers amount to maladministration.
The most frequent complaint received concerns duplicate demands being sent out for the payment of social security contributions.
The paralysis of the agency is also said to frequently exhibit itself by silence in the face of the complaints, and by the excessive use of bailiffs (huissiers) in the collection of alleged arrears of contributions.
The Médiateur considers around 100,000 registered persons have been adversely affected by the poor administration of the agency.
Amongst those who are outraged by the operation of the agency are British expats, some of who have been in contact with us over the past few months relaying their own difficulties.
Adrian Copeland from Var wrote to us advising that he had written to RSI advising them that he had ceased his business in November last year, but they refused to stop the standing order for his social security contributions, despite several recorded delivery letters demanding that they do so. 'In the end I just cancelled my standing order with the bank (who were reluctant to let me do it) and I have yet to hear anything.'
Robert Brady decided to transfer to auto-entrepreneur status, in which responsibility for his social security contributions transferred to another agency 'URSSAF’. 'Nevertheless', he says, 'the RSI refused to cease the demands for cotisations, advising that until they had received formal confirmation of my new business status I remained liable.'
Joanne Lesley also registered a new business with RSI for which she sought a health card (a carte vitale). Despite her clear business registration with the Chambre de Commerce it took months and many letters and telephone calls before the RSI was willing to issue her with her the card.
'In the meantime, neither me nor any member of my family were covered, so we have had to save up the feuille de soins with which we have been issued until we were admitted into the system. We are still awaiting a refund from the RSI for the health payments we made.'
Why the Problems?
It is perhaps not surprising that there is such chaos at the present time.
The RSI is a relatively new social security agency, having been created in January 2008 by the amalgamation of a three other ‘caisses’ that were previously responsible for the administration of certain social security payments and benefits to self-employed persons.
The fund is responsible for the collection and of health and pension contributions and benefits for around 4 million businesses in trade, commercial and industrial professions, as well as certain professions libérales.
However, they continue to delegate to the social security collection agency URSSAF responsibility for the collection of some contributions from certain business professions.
Since URSSAF took on this task, the level of recovery of contributions has fallen significantly, and arrears of contributions has is now at an all time high.
One of the major problems is that the computer systems operated by RSI and URSSAF are not compatible. A plan is in place to create a unified system, but it is not likely to be ready until 2013.
Jean Lardin, President of the Union Professionnelle Artisanale (UPA), claims that the reason for the chaos is because 'the reforms were carried out at a forced pace.'
The agency was meant to usher in a new unified and simpler process of administration, but it is clear that it is long way from achieving this objective.