Fine Gael Senator, Tim Lombard, has said that the extension of the Invalidity Pension to the self-employed is a great support to small businesses owners and will help to create jobs in Cork.
“My Fine Gael colleague, the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty, has announced the Government is extending the Invalidity Pension scheme to self-employed workers for the first time ever.
“Invalidity Pension is a pension payment for people who cannot work because of a long-term illness or disability, so the extension of this right is a real leap forward in terms of the rights of the self-employed and business owners who will, for the first time ever, be able to apply for this safety net on the same basis as employees. The change will also apply to farmers, tradespeople, freelancers, contractors and professionals, so lots of people are set to benefit here in Cork once the scheme is extended on December 1st.
“This is just the latest Fine Gael measure designed to improve the lot of small business owners and other self-employed people in Cork, something we have prioritised since entering Government in 2011 as part of the Action Plan for Jobs which has seen the unemployment rate reduce from a high of 15.1% in 2012 to 6% this year.
“It is part of our policy of making work pay and encouraging self-employment and entrepreneurship. Improving the safety net for the self-employed and improving the benefits they receive under the PRSI scheme means they are on more of a stable footing to create more jobs.
“In March of this year, the self-employed were given access to the Treatment Benefit Scheme which includes free eye tests, dental examinations and contributions towards the cost of hearing aids, with additional dental and optical benefits being provided from October 2017 for both the self-employed and employees.
“We have also completed significant steps along the road to the equalisation of income tax credits between self-employed people and PAYE workers. We are two thirds of the way there, addressing what was an unfair treatment of self-employed people in this country. The change in the recent Budget in this regard means that self-employed people will pay €200 less per year in tax from 2018, following our decision to extend the earned-income tax credit to €1,150.
“I am pleased that the Government has been able to extend the Invalidity Pension without increasing the rate of PRSI paid by employees, employers and the self-employed.
“It is important for self-employed people to know that the Invalidity Pension will be based solely on their PRSI contributions. It is not means assessed and any savings or assets they have will not affect their payment.
“Similarly, if their partner is working, that income will not affect the payment of the Invalidity Pension.
“Minister Doherty has also confirmed that it is also open to self-employed who are currently out of work through illness to claim the Invalidity Pension if they have the relevant PRSI contributions on their social insurance record.
“A public awareness campaign on the extension of the Invalidity Pension to the self-employed will run over the next 10 days starting on Monday, 20th November via print, broadcast and digital media.
“Fine Gael will continue its focus on creating even more employment opportunities for people in Cork and throughout the country. Small and family businesses will play a significant role in this jobs success and it is important we continue to support them. More jobs mean increased tax revenue with which we can invest in improved public services to ensure a better quality of life for all.”