The Sida-Info-Service (SIS) network is in financial turmoil. Its situation is the result of a real social problem: the withdrawal of the State through drastic cuts in subsidies to associations. How can we cope with the failures and obligations of a State in financial turmoil, when the country is so much in need of the social and solidarity economy?
"The community movement must wake up." said Patrice Gaudineau, Director General of the SIS Network, at a press conference this morning with its President, Gérard Desborde. Press conference to explain the declaration of cessation of payments and the association's application for receivership in order to benefit from a collective procedure to preserve the services it has been providing to users for 25 years, as well as to safeguard as many jobs as possible.
The observation is simple: a dependence on public subsidies and a tight cash position.
Gérard Desborde, right, and Patrice Gaudineau - SIS
An emergency situation
In spite of the drastic and constant decline in INPES (National Institute for Prevention and Health Education) grants representing 90 % of its budget, Sida Info Service has managed to maintain its activities with 30 % less resources between 2006 and 2014: 7.5M euros in 2006, 5.1M euros in 2014, 5M euros in 2015 and 4M euros announced at best for 2017.
Created in October 1990, the militant, public interest association, committed to the fight against HIV, hepatitis, sexual health and exclusion, has to date provided information, guidance, counselling and psychological support. It has carried out this mission through a number of organizations, including the 190 sexual health centre and its various regional offices. A flagship service, a lever for health and social prevention, but also a tool for combating obscurantism, approved by the State (INPES). The team of 83 employees receives 400 calls a day, seven days a week.
Despite these performances and apparently rigorous management, Sida Info Service found itself financially weakened by the delays and prevarication of the State when its bank withdrew its cash advances. It therefore found itself in suspension of payments on 18 February, and the two corporate officers (the Chairman and the Chief Executive Officer) had to apply the Law, and declare SIS in suspension of payments with a request for receivership on 23 February, in order to protect its business and its employees. A hearing was held at the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris on 25 February, after which the decision was reserved until 10 March. After four restructurings since its creation, this is the first time that a receivership procedure has been requested.
A societal problem
Patrice Gaudineau sets the record straight: " 12,800 per year to care for an HIV-positive person, our 5 million subsidies are amortized from the 390th avoidance of HIV transmission, he calculates; In 2014, we had 5 million 544,000 visits to our website and 121,000 qualified interviews with highly trained listeners, a figure that does not decline year after year. I am convinced that we have managed to avoid more than 390 contaminations per year. »
Shortage of public funds, failure to meet financial commitments beyond one year, obligation to have cash reserves (own funds) available to await the payment of the full amount of the subsidies. And if the association has a virtuous management, it must reimburse the State for its surpluses instead of reconstituting the equity capital that is nevertheless required by the system: the public authorities must take responsibility. 35 million people are living with HIV; 1.5 million people died in 2013 and in France; the Institut de veille sanitaire estimates that there are 6,200 new HIV-positive people every year, a figure that has remained stable since 2007.
AIDS still exists and the action of SIS-Association is still necessary and allows the State to make substantial savings .
How can we finance ever-increasing social needs when the coffers are empty?
New financial alternatives
The world of private finance is never very far away... Secretary of State Martine Pinville, in charge of Social and Solidarity-based Economy, will launch the first two calls for proposals for a new family of paid financial "products" with a social 100% vocation: the SIB (or "social impact bond", in French "investissement à impact social"). Could these SIBs enable the world of social and solidarity economy to find new levers for action? Because the challenge is there: to imagine innovative sources of financing to remedy the shortage of public resources.
"It's not a miracle solution, but an innovative option.Judge Julien Damon, associate professor at Sciences Po for the journal Opinion. It makes it possible to raise and invest private funds to finance even the most complicated social issues, and to measure the effectiveness of the action undertaken. »
What is this-il ? The "social impact contract" is a financial arrangement whereby a private investor provides funds to an association to enable it to implement a defined programme. If the association fulfils the objective, it will have saved the public authorities money. With the money saved, the government can then reimburse the private investor with a small interest. However, if it fails to do so, the government will not repay rien , so the investor bears the financial risk as if he had invested in a start-up.
Set up in the United Kingdom in 2010 before spreading to the United States and Canada but also to Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany for a total of more than 100 million dollars of investments to date, this mechanism is based on a public-private partnership (the famous PPPs, also very popular in research): the funding of programmes entrusted to associations is the responsibility of the private sector.
As Julien Damon says, "SIBs have proven their effectiveness around two key ideas: firstly, it is possible to to invest and raise private funds to finance the care of even the most complicated social issues. [...] Secondly, it is really possible to measure the effectiveness of the action undertaken. In a word, the profitability of a social intervention can be evaluated on a double social and financial register".
But don't these SIBs risk accelerating the disengagement of the State and giving rise to manipulations aimed at enabling the promised results to be achieved at all costs, in a culture of results, as the following questions arise Libération ?
For the time being, the associative movement remains cautious, as Florent Guéguen (Fnars) states: "We do not see how these contracts would be applicable to our actions to combat exclusion, integration and solidarity, which are legally the responsibility of the State. On the other hand, the return on investment induces the setting up of efficiency indicators that could push the associations to choose the easiest publics. Finally, these mechanisms risk benefiting the new entrants to social innovation, who are familiar with this type of financing, to the detriment of historical associations, which are not cultural. »
The Collectif des associations citoyennes and Attac have denounced new public-private partnerships at "exorbitant" costs. In fact, funders of the social and solidarity economy are not alone in supporting these contracts. Traditional banks, such as BNP, would like to offer these "socially responsible" products. New disengagement of the State?