More than 12,000 claims have been approved under the treatment benefit scheme for self-employed people in Limerick since reforms were introduced by the Government, a Fine Gael Senator has confirmed.
Senator Maria Byrne said the take-up shows that the reforms introduced by Fine Gael in Government are having a real impact on the lives of self-employed people.
“Fine Gael has prioritised improving available supports for the self-employed. We recognise that small and medium enterprises are the life-blood of our economy, creating local employment and operating at the heart of their communities.
“That is why the Government introduced a new deal for the self-employed which introduced treatment benefits for the self-employed for the first time in 2017.
“Figures provided by the Department of Social Protection show that in 12,529 claims have been approved in 2018 and in the first half of 2019.
“This November for the first-time jobseekers benefit will also be extended to the self-employed offering a safety net and peace of mind for our entrepreneurs who will know that they will be looked after should the worst happen in respect of their business.
“Another key reform introduced by the Government was the extension of Invalidity Pension (IP) to self-employed contributors from the 1st December 2017.
“This ensures that self-employed people have access to a social insurance based income support if they become permanently incapable of work as a result of an illness or disability, without having to go through a means test.
“To date, 867 customers whose social insurance record included self-employed (“Class S”) PRSI contributions have benefitted from this support.
“The Government has committed to continuing the work of ensuring self-employed people are on an equal footing with employees.
“We must ensure that we support and encourage enterprise at every available opportunity.”
Minister for Social Protection, Regina Doherty, said:
“The equalisation of the Earned Income Tax Credit with the PAYE Tax Credit is also part of Fine Gael’s self-employed agenda.
“We have made progress in recent years, for example, for 2019 you may claim an Earned Income Tax Credit of €1,350, increased from €950 in 2017 and €1,150 in 2018.”
Minister Doherty continued: “We have also taken further measures to support all hardworking people and make life easier for families.
“We have introduced paid paternity leave, extended free pre-school to 2 years for all children, increased maternity leave and benefits for mothers of premature babies, extended free GP care for the over 70s and under 6s, introduced a GP card for carers and medical cards for children with severe disabilities.
“We have also reduced the tax burden on working families.
“But we still have more to do. We will roll out free GP care for 6-12 year olds, starting with under 8s in Summer 2020, under 10s in 2021 and under 12s in 2022.
“From November, we will introduce an additional two weeks’ paid leave for each parent, supporting hard pressed parents to spend more time at home with their children and ease the burden of juggling the work-life balance.
“We will extend paid leave to seven weeks for each parent.
“From September, both parents will be entitled to 22 weeks’ unpaid leave per child up to the age of 12 years.
“This is an increase of 4 weeks. Next Year, we will increase it by another 4 weeks.
“Since 2015, the Home Carer’s Tax Credit has been increased to €1,500 per annum, up 85% in 4 years. This recognises families where one parent stays at home to care for a child or a dependent. We will continue this.”
Minister Doherty concluded: “Self-employed people have historically gotten a raw deal when it came to PRSI related benefits, receiving little in terms of support in the event of illness or disability, or even routine medical costs.
“Fine Gael is committed to creating a supportive environment for entrepreneurship, including providing an income safety net to employees and the self-employed alike.
To hear from entrepreneurs around the country discussing their experiences of being self-employed in a series of videos and podcasts produced for Fine Gael’s #SelfEmployedWeek and for more information on supports available, please visit the Fine Gael website: https://www.finegael.ie/self-employed/