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After this week announcing the prolongation of the national lockdown on public movement to contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus epidemic, the French government increased to 110 billion euros its financial aid package to cushion the effects of the shutdown. The aid, largely ploughed into helping businesses and paying the tab for their laid-off workforces, includes measures for low-income households and the extension of unemployment benefits for those about to lose them. “We provide responses to all human situations,” claimed labour minister Muriel Pénicaud. But, as Cécile Hautefeuille reports, a recent reform restricting access to the benefits system exposes many tens of thousands of the jobless to financial ruin.
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