The old housing savings plans, “real life annuity” that the Court of Auditors wants to address

The old housing savings plans, "real life annuity" that the Court of Auditors wants to address

Small gold mines for savers who subscribed to them before 2011, the old savings plans for housing (PEL) are in the crosshairs of the Court of Auditors who asked this Monday that their remuneration be reduced taking into account their cost for the state and the bank. Currently, the PEL, whose remuneration is fixed once and for all upon signing the contract, seems inconvenient with a rate of 1% since 2016, while a passbook A contributes double (2%) and a popular savings passbook (LEP ) 4.6%.

But this has not always been the case: before 2015, money placed in a PEL yielded more than 2%. Its yield had even reached 3.27% between 2000 and 2003 and exceeded 4% before 1994. In theory, the PEL is a medium-term investment: it allows you to obtain a loan on advantageous terms to buy a property or finance works. Since 2011, it is only possible to feed it for 10 years and accrue interest for 15 years.

PEL signed before 2011 continue to accrue interest for an unlimited time, at the rate set at the time of the contract, which encourages some savers to keep them longer. A situation that the Court of Auditors denounces in a report published this Monday: “The ELP deviates from the historical objective of home ownership to become a long-term savings product,” it argues. According to the institution, old PELs are similar to “a real life annuity, in particular for the benefit of older holders with high outstanding balances.”

Last year, an average remuneration of 4.5% for former PEL

This situation has been denounced for several years by the banks, which pay the interest. “These old PELs are no longer in line with the current market and constitute a significant cost for financing the economy,” assures the French Banking Federation (FBF) to AFP.

According to the Banque de France, PELs opened before 2011 accounted for €107.7 billion last year with an average remuneration of 4.5%, compared to 3.04% for all PELs. In a letter to the Court of Accounts published on Monday, its governor, François Villeroy de Galhau, describes the situation as “anomaly”.

No economic return for the state

PELs also cost the State money because those opened before 2018 are exempt from personal income tax for up to thirteen years and allow, when spent on a loan, to obtain a State bonus (up to a maximum of 1,525 euros), the amount of which depends on the interest received. The Court of Auditors estimates the cost to the State in 2022 of these old PELs at 411 million euros “without the State obtaining any economic return or directing the resource towards works of general interest, such as the case of regulated booklets,” he stresses. .

She “recommends thinking of a device to eliminate” the advantage of the old PEL over other savings products, which she considers “little justified and even disproportionate.” Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire responded on Monday that he had “taken note” of the court’s recommendations and contented himself with saying that the Court’s conclusion on PELs “may legitimately raise doubts about the efficiency of allocating these savings.” of housing”. .

For the consumer association CLCV: “A commitment is a commitment”

Reviewing the rates of the old PEL is not easy because they are governed by contracts between individuals and banks. The issue is all the more delicate since inflation, which reached 5.8% in August in one year according to INSEE, is reducing the real earnings of savers.

“A commitment is a commitment and it must be respected,” François Carlier, general delegate of the CLCV consumer association, reacts to AFP. If the banks decided to lower the remuneration of the old passbooks, this would give rise to important litigation and would damage their image in the eyes of their clients, underlines the Court of Auditors.

Therefore, it identifies other solutions, such as a negotiation between the banks and their clients to close the PEL, in exchange for compensation, or a modification of the contracts by law in the name of the general interest, in exchange for a commitment from the banks. .to finance priority projects, such as the ecological and energy transition. The FBF assures that “the profession is open to participate in the work that the Court recommends to the public authorities” and favors a regulatory modification of the performance of the former PEL.

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