Thursday, 31 January 2019

Questions (237)

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

237. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the requirements which will be in place for the self-employed to avail of jobseeker's allowance and benefit in 2019, if the payments will be means tested; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4732/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The jobseeker’s benefit and jobseeker’s allowance schemes provide income support for people who have lost work and are unable to find alternative full-time employment. The 2019 Estimates for my Department provide for expenditure this year on the jobseeker’s schemes of €1.95 billion.

The jobseekers allowance scheme is a means tested payment which is already available to all jobseekers including those in self-employment. There are currently over 6,900 self-employed recipients in receipt of jobseekers allowance. People who were previously self-employed and are now in receipt of jobseeker’s allowance have access to activation measures available to other jobseeker recipients. If a self-employed person is engaged in farming they may qualify for the means-tested farm assist payment which is currently paid to approximately 6,600 farmers.

The new scheme for the self-employed, which I announced as part of the 2019 Budget measures, will extend a PSRI insurance based benefit to the self-employed who lose employment. This measure will be introduced in late 2019 and builds on other significant improvements for the self-employed in recent years such as access to invalidity pension and treatment benefits in Budget 2017. This measure is part of the Government’s stated aim of creating a supportive environment for entrepreneurship, including providing an income safety net to employees and the self-employed alike.

Applicants will have to satisfy the qualifying conditions for the new jobseekers benefit support including a PRSI contribution requirement and have sustained a substantial loss of employment. The specific details of this scheme are currently being examined as part of the legislative process.