Question to the Minister for Social Protection (Ms. Joan Burton, TD)
To ask the Minister for Social Protection the supports in place for persons who were formerly self-employed but now find themselves without work; if such persons qualify for any unemployed benefits; if they are registered as unemployed by her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. – Jerry Buttimer.
For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 6th November, 2013.
Self-employed persons are liable for pay related social insurance (PRSI) at a rate of 4%, which entitles them to access long-term benefits such as State pension (contributory) and widow’s, widower’s or surviving civil partner’s pension (contributory). However, they are not entitled to jobseeker’s benefit. This compares to employees in respect of whom a combined 14.75% rate, under full-rate PRSI Class A, is paid giving entitlement to the full range of social insurance benefits including jobseeker’s benefit.
Any person of working age who does not qualify for jobseeker’s benefit may claim means tested jobseeker’s allowance. Subject to means and other qualifying conditions, self-employed persons may claim jobseeker’s allowance if their business ceases or there is reduced demand for their services. Typically over 80% of jobseeker’s allowance claims from self-employed persons have been awarded over recent years.
Previously self-employed persons in receipt of jobseeker’s allowance have access to the full range of activation measures available through the State. Given the scale of unemployment levels, the key objective of activation policy and labour market initiatives is to offer assistance to those most in need of support in securing work and achieving financial self-sufficiency. This policy objective prioritises scarce resources to those in receipt of qualifying welfare payments. Accordingly the employment services and schemes provided by the Department are focused in the first instance on this cohort of unemployed people.
However, many services are available to the formerly self-employed who are not in receipt of a social welfare payment. Some employment services, such as assistance with job-search activities and the use of online job search tools, are available to people if they register with the Department’s employment services offices, regardless of their social welfare status.
Unemployed persons, including the previously self-employed, not in receipt of payments may also be eligible to avail of up-skilling opportunities, for example through FÁS training, but are not eligible to receive a training allowance while undertaking the course. Springboard courses are open to people who were previously self-employed, regardless of their social welfare status.
The Live Register includes part-time workers (those who work up to 3 days a week), seasonal and casual workers entitled to jobseeker’s benefit or jobseeker’s allowance.