Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Questions (268)

John Brady


268. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the rationale for excluding self-employed workers from applying for the working family payment; if she has examined the possibility of extending the payment to these cohort of workers; if so, the estimated costs involved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27134/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Working Family Payment (WFP) is an in-work support which provides an income top-up for employees on low earnings. The WFP is designed to prevent in-work poverty for low paid workers with child dependants, and to offer a financial incentive to take-up employment. There are currently almost 53,000 families with 119,000 children in receipt of the WFP. The estimated spend on the WFP in 2018 was approximately €431 million.

To qualify for payment of WFP a person must be engaged in full time paid employment as an employee which is expected to last for at least 3 months and be working for a minimum of 38 hours per fortnight or 19 hours per week. A couple may combine their hours of employment to meet the qualification criteria. The applicant must also have at least one qualified child who normally resides with them or is part of a family supported by them.

It is possible for the household of a self-employed person to receive a WFP payment where the spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of the self-employed persons meets the qualifying criteria.

There are also a number of other schemes available to self-employed individuals details of which are as follows:

- The Back to Work Family Dividend - which helps families to move from social welfare into employment, including self-employment, by retaining their qualified child increase for up to two years. There are currently 6,330 families in receipt of the dividend;

- The Back to Work Enterprise Allowance scheme encourages people getting certain social welfare payments to become self-employed. If you take part in the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance scheme you can keep a percentage of your social welfare payment for up to 2 years;

- The Short-Term Enterprise Allowance gives support to people who have lost their job and want to start their own business.

As there are already a number of supports available to self-employed individuals there are no plans to extend the WFP to self-employed at this time.

Any extension of the WFP to other categories of persons, such as the self-employed, would also obviously expenditure implications and would have to be considered in a budgetary context.