Fianna Fáil’s Spokesperson on Jobs Dara Calleary has said the needs of self-employed workers that are currently ignored by the State must be addressed as a matter of priority.

Deputy Calleary has called on the Taoiseach to act on his commitments to address income tax discrimination ion the next budget.

“This Government is in power for over four years now and it has done absolutely nothing to address discrimination against the self-employed. Self-employed workers play a vital role in the economy of towns and villages across the country and they are key to sustainable recovery.

“There are approximately 350,000 self-employed workers in the State, with or without other employees. They tackle on a daily basis the continued lack of credit from the banks with no back-up security from the State in the event of jobs being lost. They have no access to social protection benefits and they pay 3% more USC than the rest of employed people.

“Not only is this discrimination undermining the viability of many self-employed workers, it actively discourages entrepreneurship in Ireland.  We need to introduce a culture where those who are self-employed enjoy the securities of other PAYE workers. The higher USC should be eliminated and they should be given the option of opting into Class A PRSI contributions. This would allow them receive the same terms and conditions as other workers.

“The jobs crisis cannot be solved by focusing on foreign direct investment alone. We need to support self-employed workers and SMEs and encourage entrepreneurship. By levelling the playing field for the self-employed, more people will be encouraged to start their own businesses. Ireland needs this now more than ever.”