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Online approaches: “We have to get back to being human!  – Online procedures: the galley




The dematerialization of public services continues to undermine access to user rights, believes the Defender of Rights, Claire Hédon, in a report published on Tuesday, February 15. This is a “social cohesion issue”, she says.

In your report, you regret that digitization procedures in public services were carried out without “dedicated support and maintenance of physical alternatives”. Would you say that we are witnessing a sort of forced march in this direction, “whatever the cost”?

Dematerialization is an opportunity, I do not question it. The problem is not to compare an alternative, in the form of maintaining a physical reception for users, in particular for the ten million people who are in difficulty with digital, but also, in fact, for each of us because it can happen to everyone not to have ticked the right box… Who has not had a problem with their identity card, their gray card, the driving license, the fact of claiming pension rights, etc. ? We were first alerted by people who were unable to assert their rights, but we realized that it concerns many more people. Two figures allow us to take the measure: one person in five has neither a computer nor a tablet at home and a quarter of 18-24 year olds say that they have difficulty carrying out procedures online!

It is up to the public service to adapt to the user and there, we reverse things by asking the user to adapt to dematerialization… We ask him to equip himself, to train, to realize -even online procedures and not to be mistaken, otherwise he may find himself in situations of non-access to rights.

Is the country really giving itself the means to achieve the goal set by this dematerialization?

The question we can ask ourselves is: what type of public service do we want? It is up to the public service to adapt to the user and there, we reverse things by asking the user to adapt to dematerialization… We ask him to equip himself, to train, to realize -even online procedures and not to be mistaken, otherwise he may find himself in situations of non-access to rights. We feel it very well in the hotlines of our delegates: they find themselves face to face with exhausted people who experience a feeling of injustice. They feel a distance from public services. This creates social tension, anger and it weakens the confidence that we can have in the institutions and, ultimately, in the State. We must question the primary purpose: beyond the savings sought, when we dematerialize the procedures, the goal is to improve the services provided to the user and to simplify the procedures. But we will only improve it by maintaining reception.

You mention cases of “breach of rights”. Can you give us some examples?

People who have been removed from Pôle emploi because they had sent their CV by post and not by email. A person who was removed from the RSA because she had not made her declaration on time, while the France Services space where she used to go was closed in the summer and no one had taken the trouble of informing them… Or the example of MaPrimeRénov’, which is aimed more at the least privileged households, whose approach is entirely dematerialized and where it is impossible to fill out a file with anyone when is in difficulty with digital… And there are also foreigners who are unable to make an appointment in the prefectures or people who claim their pension rights and who sometimes take six months, a year, or even 18 months , to get their pension because they can’t reach anyone. If we alert today, it is because we still see closed Caf receptions, under the pretext that there is a France Services space next door. It is not possible ! We have to put people back!

When we dematerialize the procedures, the goal is to simplify things for users. But we will only improve it by maintaining reception.

Would you go so far as to say that the administration thus discards its tasks and duties on the user?

When the user cannot do anything, it is the associations that must take over, in particular for precarious people, and they find themselves overwhelmed and doing the work of the public services. And the other reality is private pharmacies that intervene both for gray cards and for appointments in prefectures, taking exorbitant amounts. We ask that it be better specified that these services are free, that there is no need to go through private companies for this kind of process and that we hunt for fraud in these areas!

“It is up to the public service to adapt to the user and there, we are reversing things by asking the user to adapt to dematerialization”, estimates Claire Hédon, in a report published on Tuesday. (Photo Ludovic Marin/EPA-EFE)

Isn’t there a risk of a potential social bomb, as was felt during the movement of yellow vests?

We are here faced with a question of social cohesion! The subject is broader than just the question of benefits and it really worries the French. Our objective is to alert on all these problems related to dematerialization. Progress has been made since our previous report in 2019 but it does not go far enough!



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