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Social Welfare Schemes

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 14 December 2021

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

Questions (454)

Pádraig O'Sullivan


454. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Social Protection if the short-term illness benefit will be extended to the self-employed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [61845/21]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

There is a wide range of benefits available to people who make Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI) contributions. Entitlement to such benefits is dependent on the individual's social insurance contribution record, the class of social insurance paid as well as satisfying other qualification criteria relevant to the scheme being applied for.

In general, self-employed people make PRSI contributions at class S. Where all qualification criteria for the particular scheme are satisfied, this class of PRSI gives access to the following benefits -

- Adoptive Benefit,

- Guardian's Payment (Contributory),

- Invalidity Pension,

- Jobseeker's Benefit (Self-Employed),

- Maternity Benefit,

- Parent's Benefit,

- Partial Capacity Benefit (where in receipt of Invalidity Pension),

- Paternity Benefit,

- State Pension (Contributory),

- Treatment Benefit, and

- Widows, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory) Pension.

The benefits to which class S PRSI does not provide access are -

- Carer's Benefit,

- Health and Safety Benefit,

- Illness Benefit, and

- Occupational Injuries Benefits.

Although self-employed people are not usually eligible for Illness Benefit, an exception was made in relation to Covid-19, primarily as a public health measure. The purpose of the enhanced Illness Benefit payment in respect of Covid-19 is to encourage people to not go to work due to financial constraint when they should be in isolation. It has been available to the self-employed since its introduction in March 2020. Expenditure on the enhanced Illness Benefit is expected to be in the region of €100 million for 2021.

There has been an extensive expansion of access to the range of social insurance benefits for self-employed social insurance contributors in recent years without any increase in the 4% rate of contribution made by them. In effect, self-employed contributors, in return for a contribution of 11 percentage points lower than the combined employer and employee contribution of 15.05% made in respect of employed contributors, have access to benefits which comprise over 90% of the value of all benefits available to employed contributors.

The Programme for Government commits to giving consideration to increasing all classes of PRSI over time to replenish the Social Insurance Fund to help pay for measures and changes to be agreed including to the State pension system, improvements in short-term sick pay benefits, parental leave benefits, pay-related jobseeker's benefit and treatment benefits.

The supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) scheme is the safety net within the overall social welfare system in that it provides assistance to eligible people in the State whose means are insufficient to meet their needs and those of their dependants. Supports provided under the SWA scheme can consist of a basic weekly payment, a weekly or monthly supplement in respect of certain expenses, as well as single exceptional needs payments (ENPs) and urgent needs payments (UNPs). The basic supplementary welfare allowance provides immediate assistance for those in need who are awaiting the outcome of a claim or an appeal for a primary social welfare payment or do not qualify for payment under other State schemes.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.