Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Employment & Small Business Eamon Scanlon TD has welcomed the extension of the Treatment Benefit Scheme to self-employed people, but he has warned that other supports are needed to provide a social welfare safety net for entrepreneurs and the self-employed.

The current scheme will provide for certain dental, optical and aural benefits to be rolled out to people who pay Class S PRSI.

Deputy Scanlon commented, “Fianna Fáil has always been a pro-enterprise party and we have long argued to close the current gaps between PAYE workers and the self-employed with regard to tax and social welfare entitlements.  The current tax code imposes a draconian burden on self-employed people as it taxes their income at a considerably higher level, without providing them with any social welfare safety net.

“We recognise the urgent need for reform and have proposed a new Employer PRSI relief, changes to the income tax structure for self-employed people, and a move towards a revised social welfare scheme.  We secured a commitment on a new PRSI scheme, as well as a pledge to provide a supportive tax regime for entrepreneurs and the self-employed as part of the Confidence & Supply agreement.

“While I welcome the extension of the Treatment Benefit Scheme, I hope that this is merely the first step in a much larger range of proposals which will support the self-employed.  Our welfare system needs to support existing business people and budding entrepreneurs who can lead job creation in their own communities.  The current system suppresses entrepreneurial spirit by punishing enterprise rather than rewarding it.  We need to make it more attractive for people to pursue business ventures.

“I’m pleased that the policies, which Fianna Fáil pushed for during the negotiations, are coming to fruition and we will continue to press the Government to ensure that all the commitments, which were secured as part of the Confidence & Supply arrangement are implemented in full”.