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Administrative procedures on the Internet: in the suburbs, illiteracy accentuates inequalities


Completing your tax return online (the deadline for which is June 8 for the last departments concerned) is rarely a cakewalk. For some residents of working-class neighborhoods, this is even an impossible challenge. According to the survey on the uses of digital technology by the French, called “Capuni”, conducted by the Marsouin observatory, a scientific interest group, in 2019, 22% of inhabitants in priority neighborhoods for city policy (QPV) find it difficult to file their taxes online.

An example that illustrates the problem of illiteracy in the suburbs, characterized by a difficulty, or even an inability, to use digital devices and computer tools due to a lack or total absence of knowledge about their operation .

Also according to the Capuni study, the inhabitants of QPV are less well equipped (75% have a computer compared to 89% of the French) or show a lack of mastery of the smartphone (37% compared to 24%). According the INSEE study “Illectronism in Ile-de-France: 1.3 million people in difficulty with digital technology”published on May 31, Seine-Saint-Denis is the Ile-de-France department most affected with 15% of its population affected by illiteracy.

During an introductory computer workshop provided by Emmaüs Connect in Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis), June 6, 2023.

A few meters from the center of Saint-Denis, a local of the association Emmaüs Connect welcomes four inhabitants, this Tuesday June 6 in the morning, for a free training. On the program: discovery of the computer, keyboard, mouse and word processing on the LibreOffice software through the writing of a fake contract termination letter.

“Feeling of anxiety”

Thérèse (who prefers to remain anonymous), 57, seems a little lost. “The computer tires me. I don’t have enough patience. It swings right, then left, so often I give up”, she had warned before the session. But now, this currently unemployed life assistant realizes that, today, and even more so since the health crisis, all her administrative procedures are now done only online. “We can no longer move on site or ask for a letter”grumbles this woman who does not have a computer at home and who is not used to checking her e-mails on her laptop, which has earned her ” problems “she eludes.

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In recent days, the center has received a few requests for help with filing taxes. “It’s tricky for us because it’s personal data and we don’t want to make any mistakes. We sometimes direct our audience to mediators who are more trained in these specific issues.concedes Arthur de Carné, space manager. In these precarious neighborhoods, illiteracy above all complicates access to rights. According to the Capuni study, 14% of QPV residents find it difficult to apply for benefits from the family allowance fund using digital technology. “For people who are not comfortable with a computer, the request for help or for a renewal of a residence permit can quickly become an obstacle course”confirms Arthur de Carné.

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