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Social Welfare Benefits.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 26 January 2010

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Ceisteanna (335, 336)

George Lee

Ceist:

421 Deputy George Lee asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if small business owners who go out of business are eligible to claim jobseeker’s allowance or jobseeker’s benefit; if not, her plans to change this so that a safety net is provided to these risk takers who provide employment here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2959/10]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Family)

The PRSI system, in line with other European social protection systems, provides for separate arrangements for employed and self employed workers.

Self-employed people pay a modified rate of PRSI contribution (Class S) which provides cover for long-term pensions such as state pension and widow's/widower's contributory pension. These contributions do not provide cover for short-term benefits such as jobseeker's and illness benefits — these are only available to persons covered by PRSI Classes A, E, H and P. This reflects the need for coverage for various contingencies, the rate of contributions that self-employed people pay, the practicalities of administering and controlling access to short-term payments and the annualised system of contributions that these same people enjoy.

The range of benefits and pensions to which different groups of workers may establish entitlement reflects the risks associated with the nature of their work. This in turn reflects the rate of contribution payable. Self-employed workers are liable for PRSI at the Class S rate of 3%. They are consequently eligible for a narrower range of benefits than general employees who, together with their employers, pay a total social insurance contribution of 14.05%, excluding levies, under the full-rate PRSI Class A.

In certain cases, a self-employed person who had insurable employment in the relevant year (currently 2008) and has sufficient PRSI contribution paid at the appropriate class, may qualify for a jobseeker's benefit payment provided all the conditions of the scheme are satisfied.

A self-employed person who has insufficient PRSI contributions paid may qualify for a jobseekers allowance which is a means tested payment.

There are no plans to extend cover for short-term benefits to this group of insured workers. Any such measure would have significant financial implications and would have to be considered within a budgetary context. Consideration would also have to be given to an appropriate increase in the rate of the PRSI Class S contribution.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

422 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will support the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9. [2975/10]

Amharc ar fhreagra

The supplementary welfare allowance scheme, which includes mortgage interest supplement, is administered on behalf of the Department by the community welfare service of the Health Service Executive.

The Executive has advised that the person concerned was initially awarded a mortgage interest supplement based on the interest paid on his original loan of €68,000 which related to his primary residence. The Executive has further advised that as the person concerned was dissatisfied with the rate of payment awarded in this case, he appealed this decision to the Executive's designated Appeals Officer but that this appeal was unsuccessful. This decision was appealed to the Social Welfare Appeals Office (SWAO) which awarded a mortgage interest supplement based on a mortgage valued at €136,000.

The Executive advised that as a result of the Social Welfare Appeals Office decision, the mortgage interest supplement payment increased from €36 to €61 per week. The Executive has now advised that, following a further review of his entitlement, payment of mortgage interest supplement will be reduced to €22 per week from 1 February 2010. The reduction in mortgage interest supplement payable is due to the reduction in the amount of interest payable by the person concerned in respect of his loan.

The Executive further advised that the person concerned was notified of the decision to reduce the rate of payment of mortgage interest supplement in October 2009. It is open to the person concerned to appeal this decision to the Executive's designated Appeals Officer.

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