Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Ceisteanna (648, 649)

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

700 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will deal with a matter (details supplied) regarding entitlements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1074/11]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Family)

In 2011, self-employed workers will be liable for PRSI at the Class S rate of 4% — the same personal rate as is paid by ordinary employees. However, employers also make a PRSI contribution of 10.75% in respect of their employees, resulting in the payment of a combined 14.75% rate per employee under full-rate PRSI Class A. As a result, ordinary employees can build entitlement towards the full range of social welfare benefits. Class S contributions will continue to provide cover for long-term benefits such as State pension (contributory) and widow's/widower's pension (contributory) only.

PRSI coverage is related to the risks associated with employment or self-employment, the annualised system of contributions for self-employed people and the practicalities of administering and controlling access to short-term payment for self-employed people. A system of separate arrangements for employed and self-employed workers within a social insurance context is common in other European social protection systems.

The 2005 Actuarial Review of the Social Insurance Fund found that the fund favours the self-employed over the employed when both employer and employee contributions are included in respect of the employed person. The analysis demonstrates that, despite the fact that they are eligible for a narrower range of benefits, self-employed persons can gain substantially more from the fund than employees.

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 in the context of a much more significant rise in the rate of contribution payable.

In terms of current supports available to self-employed persons it may be noted that, in certain cases, a self-employed person who had insurable employment in the relevant year, currently 2008, and had paid sufficient Class A contributions may qualify for a jobseeker's benefit payment, provided all the conditions of the scheme are satisfied.

A self-employed person who has paid insufficient Class A contributions may instead qualify for jobseeker's allowance. Jobseeker's allowance is a means-tested payment and in assessing a person's means for the purposes of this allowance, account is taken of all income which the person may reasonably expect to receive during the succeeding year. In general, their means will take account of the level of earnings in the last twelve months in determining their expected income for the following year. In the current climate, account is taken of the downward trend in the economy and it is accepted that future earnings may be lower than those of previous years. The process also recognises the potential for significant upward or downward variations in income from one year to the next.

Self-employed people who are on jobseeker's allowance for twelve months or more will be eligible for the new Tús initiative of community work placement, which will pay the full rate of jobseeker's allowance plus an extra €20.

Sean Fleming

Ceist:

701 Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection if an application for mortgage interest supplement in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Laois can be re-examined with a view to approving this payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1087/11]

Amharc ar fhreagra

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that the person concerned was refused mortgage interest supplement in 2008 as the residence in respect of which the loan is payable was offered for sale and, in the opinion of the HSE, the amount of mortgage interest payable by the claimant exceeded such amount as it considers reasonable to meet his or her residential needs. The HSE further advised that the person concerned appealed the decision to the HSE Appeals Office and the decision was upheld. The person concerned further appealed the decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office and the decision was again upheld.