Priority Questions

We will proceed with Questions to the Minister for Social Protection. Question No. 26 is from Deputy Willie O'Dea. I call on the Minister to respond. We are operating under the old rules.

The question is self-explanatory.

I am afraid the Minister must give the answer first and then Deputy O'Dea can respond.

Child Benefit Payments

Willie O'Dea

Question:

26. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will provide assurances that receipt of child benefit will not be dependent on school attendance, as outlined in the programme for Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11887/16]

Child benefit is a universal payment to help families with the cost of raising children and plays an important role in tackling child poverty. It does not rely on a means test or social insurance contributions and is paid to the parents of qualified children up to the age of 18 years. It is paid to approximately 623,000 families for 1.2 million children with estimated spending of more than €2 billion by my Department this year. Child benefit is not linked to school attendance for children under 16 and the Social Welfare Acts do not require monitoring of school attendance for children aged under 16. There is no power in the Act to do so. For older children aged 16 and 17 years, an annual declaration is required from parents, signed by their school, that their children attend school or that they have a disability.

The monitoring of children's attendance at school is an important child welfare issue but is beyond my remit as Minister for Social Protection. The attendance of children at school is monitored by Tusla under the Education (Welfare) Acts on a statutory basis on behalf of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. Any issues concerning school attendance, including the operation of the monitoring systems, are a matter for Tusla and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

My Department operates control programmes on all departmental schemes, designed to ensure that payments cease where there is no longer an entitlement. Child benefit operates a very effective and efficient control programme, ensuring that payment is only paid to families who continue to have such an entitlement.

What I sought to ascertain when I tabled the question was an assurance from the Minister that we would not change the current system and link the payment of child benefit to school attendance. I do not detect any such assurance in his reply. Unless I misunderstood the Minister, he has suggested it is a matter for another Department. Many people are worried about the issue. They are worried about the statement in the programme for Government that indicates there would be a link between school attendance and payment of child benefit. The Minister is familiar with the statement in the programme for Government which he negotiated with some of the Government's Independent supporters. Could he explain what exactly the statement in the programme for Government means and what its implications will be?

I am happy to give further clarity to the Deputy on this matter. Child benefit is a payment that is not means tested and is not taxed and I have no intention of changing that. The payment will remain un-means tested and it will not be taxed. Child benefit for children aged under 16 is not linked to school attendance but children aged 17 and 18 do have to be attending school or have a physical or mental disability. Controls are in place to make sure that is the case.

I had discussions last week with the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Deputy Katherine Zappone, and the Minister for Education and Skills, Deputy Richard Bruton, and the common view of the three Ministers is that those who are involved in educational welfare and monitoring truancy do not believe giving them a further tool with which to enforce school attendance by withholding child benefit payments for children aged 16 or younger would be useful. As that is a matter for them, I see no reason to change the law given that, in their view, the tool would not be useful, but it is the case for 17 and 18 year olds that the payment is linked to school attendance.

I thank the Minister for that assurance. It would appear that the long answer is "No" and the short answer is also "No", so we are happy with that.

On foot of what is in the programme for Government, what is there and what is intended for it is better co-operation. Tusla has a system, the Department of Education and Skills has a system and the Department of Social Protection has a system of registering children in school.

Yes, data. We will be sharing more and better data to perhaps identify children who are not attending school or children whose parents have left the country and are no longer entitled to the payment, but the basic principle that child benefit is universal, not means tested and not taxed remains and I have no intention or plans to change the law in that regard.

National Internship Scheme Review

John Brady

Question:

27. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Social Protection if he has completed the review into the JobBridge scheme; and if so, the reason he has not published it. [11889/16]

A commitment was given in Pathways to Work to develop and implement a programme of evaluations to assess the impact of the Pathways to Work initiatives. One of the first schemes selected for evaluation was JobBridge. The aim of the evaluation is to assess the effectiveness of the scheme in terms of its key objective of improving employment outcomes for unemployed jobseekers. The evaluation involves a number of elements including surveys of host organisation and participants to capture their perspective on and experience of JobBridge; an assessment of whether JobBridge might be displacing paid employment in the economy; and a comparison of employment outcomes of JobBridge participants matched to a control group of non-participants. The research is currently well advanced and I expect to receive an interim progress report towards the end of June and the final report in September.

The JobBridge scheme has been an effective labour market intervention to date. Some 15,000 interns went directly into paid employment immediately following a JobBridge internship. Independent research indicates that rose to 29,000 interns, or 61% of all participants after five months, compared to an average of 34% for comparable programmes in other European countries, so it is almost twice as effective.

I know people who took part in JobBridge and have benefited from it, but it was very much a scheme for its time, and I am planning to replace it with a more appropriate scheme. JobBridge was launched at a time of massive economic uncertainty and widespread unemployment. Companies were simply not hiring because they could not afford to recruit, and in many cases insisted on a minimum level of experience. However, large numbers of recent graduates and people who lost their jobs in the recession could not get the relevant workplace experience they needed to get a first or a new job. That crisis is now over, the economy is growing and employers are hiring again. The labour market has changed and new graduates are once again finding work.

Unemployment has fallen below 8% for the first time since the crash. Although the evidence is largely anecdotal, I am concerned at reports that some employers might be using JobBridge as an alternative to hiring new employees.

Additional information not given on the floor of the House

On the other hand, I am very conscious that there are still many people who lost their jobs in the depth of the recession who are struggling to break back into the labour market and schemes like JobBridge can provide a valuable pathway to such citizens, in particular in instances where it is associated with a training programme. The Indecon review in September will provide an evidential basis upon which to consider what changes should be made to improve outcomes for jobseekers and value for money for the State.

I welcome the news that JobBridge will be scrapped. That needs to be done with immediate effect. We should not wait until September. It needs to be done barring those who are already on the scheme.

When I looked at the website this morning, I saw new, fresh positions being advertised. There was an advertisement for an internship as a deli assistant. In my day such a position required probably a couple of days training to gain experience but the Minister is asking people to work 40 hours a week over a nine-month period for €50 extra on top of a social welfare payment to train as a deli assistant. Does the Minister agree that the scheme has fundamentally failed and that it has displaced work? That is quite clear. The scheme depressed job creation, facilitated wage avoidance and normalised work for little or no wages. It has put good employers at a competitive disadvantage. Does the Minister agree that JobBridge has resulted in the exploitation of workers by some individuals?

First, as the Deputy is or at least should be aware, the scheme is entirely voluntary on the part of both the employers and those taking part in it. No one was ever required to take up a JobBridge internship. When I was at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, we had JobBridge interns, some of whom went on to full-time jobs. It is important to ask people who have taken part what they think of the scheme, and 65% of those who took part stated that they would recommend it to a family member or friend, while 89% stated that it had given them new skills. These are people who actually took part, and it is more important to listen to them than to the activists - who of course have their views, to which they are entitled.

However, it was a scheme for its time and it is outdated. I intend to either abolish it altogether or replace it with a more targeted scheme in September. However, I do not wish to throw the baby out with the bathwater, and I wish to allow Indecon to finish its work in order that it can help inform me on what scheme should or might replace it. I certainly am open to suggestions from Sinn Féin as to what it considers should replace it.

When businesses advertise JobBridge internships in which they seek applicants such as fully qualified architects or, as in a more recent example, a fox hunting organisation advertises for the position of first whipper-in, it is clear that the scheme has been and continues to be abused. What will replace JobBridge? The Minister stated that he would look forward to proposals from Sinn Féin. Last year, Sinn Féin produced the document I have to hand, Displacing JobBridge, which would see tailored internships as opposed to the one-size-fits-all approach that is part of JobBridge. Will the Minister examine this document? Will he examine the primary legislation proposed by Sinn Féin within this document to provide safeguards for internships? I have to hand a copy of this document, which I will gladly hand over to the Minister for him to examine so that he can consider the items contained therein.

I thank the Deputy. The Minister to conclude.

An independent review already is under way, commissioned by my predecessor as Minister, Deputy Burton. It is important to wait six or seven weeks to get that review in order that it can be considered fully. I certainly will take a look at Sinn Féin's paper with regard to its proposals on what should replace JobBridge. As stated previously, it was a scheme that was established at a different time, a time when employers, and small employers in particular, could not afford to take on people. It was at a time when people could not get any work experience. What happened was that when people took up internships to get work experience, they lost their jobseeker's benefit. It was a real problem at the time that those who wished to take up work experience lost their jobseeker's benefit, but how else were they meant to get work experience? It was a double jeopardy for them, and that is why the JobBridge scheme evolved and why it was welcomed initially by many people who subsequently came to oppose it. However, it is now out of date and I wish to abolish it entirely or replace it. I certainly am open to suggestions on how it can best be replaced.

Departmental Legal Cases

Willie Penrose

Question:

28. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Social Protection to commit to initiating a legal case under section 599 of the Companies Act 2014 in an effort to recover moneys paid by the State to cover the statutory redundancy entitlements of the former workers of Clerys department store who were made redundant in June 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11890/16]

My Department is responsible for compensating employees for the loss of their jobs where their employer is unable to pay statutory redundancy due to financial difficulties or insolvency. Payments are made from the Social Insurance Fund, essentially from the PRSI contributions paid in by those in employment, employers and the self-employed.

Following the liquidation of Clerys in June 2015, more than €2.5 million was paid under the Department’s redundancy and insolvency payment schemes to 134 former employees. Arising from the Clerys liquidation, the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation initiated a twin-track examination of protection law for employees and unsecured creditors to ensure in particular that limited liability or company restructuring were not used to avoid a company’s obligations to its employees and creditors. The Government recently published one of these reports, by Nessa Cahill and Kevin Duffy. It is my firm view that employers must adhere to the letter and spirit of both company and employment law.

My Department is currently considering how the provisions of the Companies Acts, including section 599 of the Companies Act 2014, might be used to recover the moneys expended from the Social Insurance Fund. Consideration of legal action by my Department must take into account a number of factors, including the burden of proof required, the likely costs and duration of a legal action, and the level of assets, if any, that might be recovered if an action were successful. Officials from my Department are discussing this approach with the Attorney General's office and with senior counsel to seek legal advice, as there is no precedence in Irish case law on this specific provision.

As the Minister is aware, the significance of this case is due to the fact that the insolvency was preceded by a company restructuring which involved a separation of the trading business that employed the staff from its major asset, namely, the Clerys building. The operating company was then declared insolvent and went into liquidation. The employees lost their entitlements without notice or consultation and without payment of their statutory redundancy, but that was fixed up. In effect, what happened was that a situation was engineered in which people's entitlements and the payment to them of €2.5 million was placed onto the shoulders of the Department and the taxpayers and in which the company got away scot free. This is not good enough, and workers who had given their lifetimes were dismissed without leave or consultation or anything else.

Section 599 comes from the 1990 Act and was repeated verbatim in the 2014 Act. It is about bringing assets of a connected company into a liquidation on the grounds of fairness and equity. It is used in New Zealand, from where we borrowed it, but has never been invoked. This is the area on which there should be a focus. The provision is designed and custom-built for the purpose that arose at Clerys. It is time the shackles were thrown off and the legislation was used to pursue the issue that has arisen. If the advice from the Attorney General comes through - and I understand it could be positive - will the State invoke the legislation to ensure this money is recovered?

Thank you, Deputy. The time has elapsed.

As Deputy Penrose has described it, the €2.5 million that was required to pay the statutory redundancy to the employees who were entitled to it had to come from the Social Insurance Fund - that is, it came from the contributions of others rather than from the company. Section 599 is a mechanism by which it might be possible to recover those funds either from the company or from connected companies. However, key to this prospect will be the advice of the Attorney General. If the advice is that we have a good chance of winning the case and that there is a good chance of recovering the money, then of course it would be my intention to proceed with that legal action. However, I must bear in mind the undesirability of exposing the taxpayer to a further loss by pursuing a case that may not be successful or one against a company that may not have the €2.5 million to repay to the Social Insurance Fund. These are the factors that must be taken into account - namely, whether there is a reasonable chance of the case being successful, and, if it were successful, whether the companies concerned have the money to pay back to the Social Insurance Fund.

With all respect to the Minister, that reflects the conservatism within the bureaucracy. Section 599 has never been used. It is on the Statute Book for a good reason and it should be used. If the Government, with the backing of the deep pockets of the State, cannot use it, how can a small business or small company owner use or exploit it? Let us go for it. The Government should carry the loss, and if the courts hold against it, Members can amend the law to ensure this situation never occurs again. This is happening too often; too many companies are getting away with passing the buck and engineering matters to place the bills onto the shoulders of the Minister. It is important that this action be pursued, and the time to so do is overdue. People outside the House make the point to me that if the Department were owed €20 or €200 or €2,000 by an ordinary person - an overclaim, perhaps, or on foot of an inadvertent action - that person would be pursued with vigour. I ask the Minister to pursue this matter with vigour. I would be surprised if the Attorney General did not give the green light to pursue this action. What is the sense of having legislation on the Statute Book if it is useless and toothless?

I thank Deputy Penrose.

If it is, the legislation should be brought back before the Dáil, where Members can amend it to make sure it has teeth.

The Minister to conclude.

Deputy Penrose is as familiar with the Attorney General and her office as I am, and a conservative she is not. She is-----

I did not say the Attorney General was conservative.

No, Deputy. Let the Minister respond, please.

The Minister should not pull that one on me. I know who is conservative.

It is the bureaucracy.

It certainly was what the Deputy implied.

No. It was the bureaucrats, and she is not a bureaucrat.

One thing about which I hope my bureaucrats are conservative is saving taxpayers' moneys. As a result of this, €2.5 million already has been lost-----

Exactly. Let us try to get it back.

-----and I certainly am not going to risk losing millions more on a case that may not be successful or on a case against a company that might not have the funds to pay back the money. That would be throwing good money after bad. However, if there is a strong case to be made, then I believe it should be pursued. As I stated, my officials are in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General in this regard, and even pursuing the case may have a value in itself, in respect of the message it may send to other companies.

However, I am not going to wilfully expose taxpayers to the further loss of funds. That would only enrich barristers at the expense of taxpayers.

National Internship Scheme Review

Willie O'Dea

Question:

29. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection his plans to reform the JobBridge Scheme given the number of criticisms that have been levelled at it; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11888/16]

As Members of the House will be aware I have already announced that I plan to replace JobBridge with a more targeted scheme later this year. I believe that economic and labour market conditions have changed for the better since the scheme was introduced in 2011, and that the time may now be right for a more targeted scheme.

JobBridge was developed in 2011 in response to the unemployment crisis to serve a dual purpose. First, to help jobseekers to secure work experience vital to enhancing their employment prospects and break the vicious circle of "no experience no work, but no work no experience". Second, it was to support employers in taking the first step in recruitment at a time when access to finance was limited and business risk was high.

JobBridge also addressed the anomaly in the social welfare code whereby unemployed jobseekers who voluntarily undertook unpaid work experience or internships lost their entitlement to a jobseeker's payment. Under JobBridge, participants retain their jobseeker's payment and, in addition, receive a top-up towards the cost of work of €52.50 per week.

JobBridge has been successful in meeting its objectives over the past five years. It has helped about 19,000 mainly small employers to provide valuable work experience to nearly 48,000 unemployed jobseekers. An independent evaluation of JobBridge published in 2013 found that overall satisfaction levels with the scheme were high. Two thirds of participants would recommend the scheme to a friend or family member, and levels of abuse of the scheme by employers were relatively low. Most notably, the evaluation found that about 61% of participants progressed into paid employment within a short period of completing their internship. This is a high progression rate and suggests that JobBridge has been instrumental in helping about 30,000 jobseekers to secure employment.

Notwithstanding these achievements JobBridge has been subject to a high level of criticism, much of which is based on small-scale surveys by various interest groups.

Additional information not given on the floor of the House.

I intend to respond to these criticisms in the design of a new scheme. It is however important that the design of a new scheme be informed by the best evidence possible. It is for this reason that I intend to await the results of a second large-scale evaluation of JobBridge currently underway. The results of this evaluation, which is again being undertaken by Indecon, are expected in September and I will announce my proposals for a new scheme shortly thereafter.

I must apologise as I forgot to congratulate the Minister on his new appointment.

I would be the first to concede that JobBridge has done a lot of good. Will the Minister agree, however, that interns have been exploited? For example, is he aware of a newspaper study which reached the following conclusions and threw up the following statistics? The largest user of the scheme over its five-year period was the HSE, which used it 399 times. The HSE used the scheme to fill 67 assistant psychologist posts. The ESB recruited a solicitor, two industrial economists, three quantity surveyors, a geological data analyst and a legal executive - all very qualified individuals - via JobBridge.

Interns interviewed during the study complained about bullying, working more than 40 hours per week, being forced to work outside their job description, and inadequate monitoring. Does this not smack of exploitation? Why did the Government renegue on its commitment to have a regular monitoring of JobBridge? It did one report in 2002, but nothing for the last four years.

I am aware of the NUI and Impact surveys on JobBridge, but I am not aware of the one to which Deputy O'Dea has specifically referred. It was a scheme for a particular time and I have no doubt that there has been some degree of displacement. That is something that I want to ensure changes in any replacement scheme, but any scheme will cause some degree of deadweight or displacement. That is the nature of any intervention that occurs in the labour market. Unfortunately, in any workplace, even in a fully paid normal contract job or permanent post, one will find people who complain of bullying, exploitation or being required to work beyond their job description. In fact, I would say that a huge number of employees in all fields of work may feel that they are asked to work beyond their job description. I do not think that those things in themselves mean that one can condemn an entire scheme.

Two wrongs do not make a right. The Minister will be aware that 86 companies were struck off the JobBridge scheme because, quite frankly, they were abusing it. Nevertheless, they were restored because it was found that the procedures adopted to strike them off were unfair. In other words, they were restored on a technicality. Does the Minister regard it as reasonable that five years into the operation of a scheme involving tens of thousands of people, we still do not seem to have a robust method of monitoring it and punishing people who offend? Will the Minister change the policy to which his predecessor rigidly adhered, of not publishing the names of companies and individuals who have been struck off? A list of tax-defaulters is regularly published in the national press.

When I asked the Minister's predecessor why this rule was not applied to companies that were stuck off from using JobBridge, I was told that it was for commercial reasons. I imagine that if some businessman is named as a tax defaulter it will have some commercial impact on him.

The Deputy has answered his earlier question. There is a monitoring system and had there not been, those 80 firms would not have been suspended from JobBridge.

They were restored.

That is 80 out of 19,000 in total.

Yes, and they are back.

I will look into it again out of my own interest. The reason why they cannot be published or named and shamed in the way a tax defaulter would be, is that where they have been suspended from a scheme it is being done on an administrative basis. It is not that a finding has been made against them in the way a finding may be made against somebody who defrauded the State of their taxes. It is not that anyone who gets audited is named and shamed when it comes to tax. They must have a finding against them that would stand up in court. Needless to say, the Department does not want to start naming and shaming companies that would then go to court and sue successfully for having their good name impugned without due process.

The Minister refers to people going to court because their good names are impugned. If somebody is disqualified from being involved in the JobBridge scheme because they have been found to be exploiting young people who want to get into employment, and those who are long-term unemployed, surely they deserve to have their names published. The Minister is using a different excuse than his predecessor, who used the excuse of commercial sensitivity. I would have thought that if some business person is listed as a tax defaulter, it would have some commercial impact on his business.

First, can the Minister give me an assurance that in the new scheme he will introduce, he will carefully examine the question of naming and shaming? That would serve as a deterrent to would-be abusers. Second, can the Minister give an assurance that under the new scheme, whenever it is introduced, he will have a proper monitoring system to ensure that interns get the experience and skills they have signed up for?

The Deputy will understand, more so than most in this House, the potential consequences of impugning the reputation of others. That is definitely something I do not want to be a party to or responsible for. What has been determined in the interim-----

On a point of order, what does the Minister mean exactly by that statement?

I am sorry but Deputies cannot raise a point of order in the course of question time.

The Minister should answer the question he was asked.

I will answer the Deputy's question. In a small number of cases, as a result of on-site inspection processes, the Department formed the view that non-compliance by certain organisations warranted a decision to terminate the internship concerned or to suspend them from future participation for a period of time depending on the nature of the transgression. In the cases concerned the decisions were taken on an administrative basis by individual inspectors. The host organisation had no recourse to any review of the decision, which is very different to tax cases. However, it has now been determined - and this is relevant to any future scheme - by the Office of the Information Commissioner that, in future, names of host organisations found to be non-compliant should, and can, be made available.

Social Insurance

Willie O'Dea

Question:

30. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection his plans to change the PRSI system to extend benefits to the self-employed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11905/16]

The new partnership Government aims to create an additional 200,000 jobs by 2010, including 135,000 outside Dublin. This will be achieved by continuing and enhancing a supportive environment for enterprise and employment.

In particular, the role of entrepreneurs and the self-employed will be central to this ambition. The new programme agreed with our partners in Government contains a commitment to introduce an improved PRSI scheme for the self-employed. In addition, we will also ensure that the earned income tax credit available to the self-employed will match that available to employees, over a number of budgets. This process commenced in budget 2016 with the introduction of a €550 tax credit for the self-employed.

I want to ensure that appropriate sustainable supports are available to the self-employed in the event of certain contingencies arising. The self-employed already have access to the State contributory pension, the contributory widow’s, widower’s or surviving civil partner’s pension, the contributory guardians payment, maternity benefit and adoptive benefit on the same basis as employees. It is also my intention that they will also gain access to the new paternity benefit, which will be introduced later this year. They can access jobseeker’s allowance on a means-tested basis. However, unlike the position with employees, they are not covered for certain contingencies such as long-term illnesses or disability and may not avail of treatment benefit. The former Advisory Group on Tax and Social Welfare published a report in 2013 which examined the options for extension of cover to the self-employed. This is a valuable contribution to the issue, and my Department will be examining all of the available options in the coming months. This examination will have to include the level of appropriate additional contribution the self-employed may have to make for additional benefits. I look forward to making progress on this issue in the next few months.

I take it from the Minister's reply that he is endeavouring to introduce a safety net for self-employed who fall ill or whose businesses collapse in the same way as employees have the jobseeker's benefit or illness benefit. The tenor of the reply appears to indicate that he will do this on a compulsory basis. I acknowledge that is what the advisory group recommended but I disagree respectfully with the recommendation. However, is the Minister aware that countries such as Denmark, Germany, France, and Spain and even recent EU entrants such as Lithuania and Romania have a voluntary system whereby if self-employed people wish to pay additional contributions, they will be included and nobody is compelled to enter the scheme? There is not a compulsory additional tax on the self-employed as a whole but those who want to sign up to the scheme are allowed to do so.

There is an under-used voluntary scheme in existence in Ireland, the class P, under which people can make voluntary contributions but very few do. That is often the difficulty with voluntary contributions. Only small numbers will contribute and the contributions often have to be high to cover the inevitable risk that occurs. When something is voluntary, those who are most likely to avail of it are the ones who are most likely to contribute. That is why universal schemes generally work better and that is why PRSI for employees is not voluntary. I imagine many employees would love it if PRSI were voluntary and they did not have to pay into the fund but the effect of that would be to make contributions much higher for those who do and there would be a risk issue in that those more likely to avail of it would be more likely to pay into it. The point could be reached that contributions would be so high that nobody would make them.

I was self-employed and I took out voluntary income protection, which is expensive.

I am aware of that. I am also aware of the position as it pertains to employees. On the basis of conversations I have had with a number of self-employed business people and their representatives, I noted they would love the option if the contributions were reasonable. We have produced figures on this. The report the Minister mentioned estimated that to bring in a scheme for illness benefit and then gradually extend it to jobseeker's benefit for the self-employed would require an additional PRSI contribution of approximately 1.5% across the board. According to our figures, in so far as we can calculate them, an additional 4.5% to 5% would be required if the scheme were voluntary. We are examining how this operates in other countries. Will the Minister confirm that he intends to proceed to bring in a protection system or safety net, particularly for self-employed people who fall ill? Will he confirm that he will give equal consideration to both options?

I have asked my officials to draw up an options paper immediately. I want to publish a proposal before the recess and I want to consult the 300,000 people who are self-employed to ask them what they think. I am conscious that this is part of the agreement between the Deputy's party and mine and, therefore, I want to do this. I will seek the Deputy's support in doing this because that will be necessary to get the legislation through. Perhaps we will meet about it again when I have something more solid.

There are different benefits and I am considering both compulsory and voluntary options. It may be the case that some benefits could be extended on a compulsory basis and others such as jobseeker's benefit might be done on a voluntary basis. It is not even an either-or but I have asked for an options paper. I intend to publish proposals, ideally before the end of July, with a view to consulting fully with people who are self-employed and other parties because legislation will require a majority in the House.