Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Questions (540)

Colm Burke


540. Deputy Colm Burke asked the Minister for Social Protection if consideration will be given to extending eligibility for the carer’s benefit to include self-employed persons or those paying a class S stamp that need the assurance of having a financial support available to them should they need to take time away from work to provide care; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26393/20]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

Self-employed workers who earn €5,000 or more in a contribution year are liable to pay social insurance contributions at the class S rate of 4%, subject to a minimum annual payment of €500.  Such contributors are currently covered for a wide range of social insurance benefits including State pension (contributory), widow's, widower's or surviving civil partner's pension (contributory), guardian’s payment (contributory), maternity, adoptive and paternity benefits, treatment benefits, invalidity pension, partial capacity benefit if in receipt of invalidity pension, jobseeker’s benefit (self-employed) and parent’s benefit.

The issue of extending additional social insurance benefits to self-employed persons paying class S social insurance contributions was considered in the Actuarial Review of the Social Insurance Fund, conducted by independent consultants, which was published in October 2017.

The Review indicates that if access to certain additional benefits, including carer's benefit, was extended to self-employed contributors, the class S rate of social insurance contribution would have to increase by 94% in order to ensure that the additional benefits are delivered in a revenue neutral manner. This rate of increase would bring the current class S contribution rate of 4% to 7.8% to cover the additional benefits only and does not take account of the value of the existing benefits to such contributors.

Any proposal to extend social insurance entitlements to self-employed contributors would have to be considered in a budgetary context, taking account of the current economic circumstances and with a view to the sustainability of the Social Insurance Fund.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.