Update: Social Welfare Supports for Self-Employed, 25th June 2015

25th June 2015 - Bernard Durkan TD

Question No:  80 Ref No:  25397/15

To the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection

To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the extent to which the self-employed may qualify for various social welfare supports in the future; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

– Bernard J. Durkan.

*    For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 24th June, 2015.


Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Joan Burton T.D.):

There are approximately 360,000 self-employed contributors including such as business owners, contractors, taxi drivers and farmers. These self-employed pay PRSI at the class S rate of 4%.  This entitles them to access long-term benefits including State pension (contributory).  A combined employer and employee PRSI rate of 14.75% is paid in respect of most employees, who can access the full range of social insurance benefits.

The most recent Actuarial Review of the Social Insurance Fund published in 2012 found that a 15% contribution rate would be needed to provide the core full-rate State pension (contributory), to the self-employed.  This compares very favourably with the 4% rate currently paid by the self-employed.

In its 2013 report the Advisory Group on Tax and Social Welfare found that almost 9 out of every 10 self-employed people who claimed the means tested jobseeker’s allowance during the three-year period from 2009 to 2011 received payment.  Therefore, it was not convinced that there was a need for the extension of social insurance for the self-employed to provide cover for jobseeker’s benefit.

However, the Group found that extending social insurance for the self-employed was warranted in cases related to long term sickness or injuries, through the invalidity pension and the partial capacity benefit schemes.  In this regard the Group recommended that the rate of contribution for class S should be increased by at least 1.5 percentage points, payable on a compulsory basis only.  

I am anxious to see the level of entitlement for the self-employed improve but any such change will need to be funded through an appropriate level of contribution.


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