Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Equality, Willie O’Dea TD, has criticised Minister Joan Burton for the pretence of action, instead of real action in addressing the dearth of social benefits for the self-employed.

Deputy O’Dea was responding to today’s launch by the Minister for Social Protection of a report by the Advisory Group on Tax and Social Welfare which proposes that the self-employed make a compulsory 37.5% increase in their PRSI contributions so they can access extra social benefits previously unavailable.

“It has taken Minster Burton 2 ½ years to come up with this report. What good is a report?” said Deputy O’Dea

“The Minister promised reform on the anomalies in the social welfare system that precludes the self-employed from claiming jobseeker’s benefit or illness benefit. The contents of the report will do nothing to encourage people to set up business in Ireland and it certainly won’t help the self-employed whose company may be in trouble.

“This is a very poor response from the Minister and is in actual fact the pretence of action, instead of real action.

“Fianna Fáil has previously published legislation which would make the system opt-in for the self-employed.

 Social Weflare (Amendment) Bill 2013

The additional voluntary contribution would essentially equate to 4% extra in PRSI contributions for self-employed people with income above €356 a week. 

“Currently there is no safety valve for the self-employed but Fianna Fáil’s legislation provides for this. Minister Burton’s proposals make this compulsory, if she had any understanding of the precarious position many SMEs face, she would know a 37.5% compulsory increase in PRSI contributions would send many businesses under.

“It should be up to each individual employer to decide if they can contribute extra to ensure there is some protection there. Even more important is that potential employers will have that safety net should they get into business.

“We had been hoping for long awaited action from the Minister but sadly we have been let down by her inaction again.”