Deputies

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Poverty of the self-employed

Patrick O’Donovan (FG, Limerick) raised the problems of poverty of the self-employed, who had been described by the Society of St Vincent de Paul as ‘the new poor’ (Dail Eireann, Debates, 20th March 2013, 31-3).  Their businesses had collapsed and although they had paid taxes and PRSI, when they presented themselves to social welfare offices, there was nothing for them.    If one were to drill down into the emigration figures, many of the 80,000 who have left were self-employed.  They had paid their PRSI and were instrumental in making the economy work.  Replying for the government, the Minister of State at the Department of Tourism, Transport and Sport Alan Kelly told him that the government’s advisory group of tax and social welfare was considering the issue of social insurance cover for the self-employed and would submit its report.  The 2010 third actuarial review of the Social Insurance Fund for 2011-2066 found that to provide core insurance for the self-employed would require their current PRSI rate of 4% to rise to 15% to 17.3%.  The self-employed got very good value for money compared to the employed.  Self-employed people could apply to establish entitlement to jobseeker allowance if their business ceased and they were on low income as a result, the test taking account the level of earnings for the last 12 months.