The Programme for Government includes a commitment to introduce an enhanced PRSI scheme for the self-employed as part of the Government's policy of making work pay and encouraging self-employment and entrepreneurship. Making progress on this commitment has been one of my key priorities since becoming Minister.
Self-employed workers, who earn €5,000 or more in a contribution year, are liable for PRSI at the class S rate of 4%, subject to a minimum annual payment of €500. This provides them with access to the following benefits: State pension (contributory), widow’s, widower’s or surviving civil partner’s pension (contributory), guardian’s payment (contributory), maternity benefit, adoptive benefit, paternity benefit and treatment benefit (from March 2017). The treatment benefit scheme includes dental and optical benefits such as free eye and dental exams and contributions towards the cost of hearing aids.
In addition entitlement to invalidity pension was extended to the self-employed from December 2017. For the first time this gives the self-employed access to the safety-net of income supports if they become permanently incapable of work as a result of illness or disability, without having to go through a means test.
In Budget 2019 I was pleased to announce that jobseeker's benefit will be extended to the self-employed towards the end of 2019.
All these improvements to entitlements are a real advance in the level of cover available to the self-employed and were introduced without an increase in the PRSI charge for this group.
I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.