News From The Oireachtas

By Tim Ryan, 
Oireachtas Correspondent

By Tim Ryan, 
Oireachtas Correspondent

Hayes seeks help for retraining people

Future People, based in Cashel, is an excellent example of a company that is retraining people, Tipperary Fine Gael Deputy Tom Hayes told the Dáil. However, he said several of his constituents who are interested in the programme had contacted him raising concerns about the eligibility criteria.

“I appreciate that the programme is prioritising the long-term unemployed, but there are people who are determined and anxious to get involved in these schemes and get back to work who are excluded,” he said. “There are young married women at home who probably have mortgages but, because they are not receiving social welfare payments, they are finding times extremely hard. They would like to retrain and get involved in the job market but cannot because of the eligibility criteria that require them to be on Jobseeker’s Allowance.”

There were wives and partners who had been working but are not allowed join the programme. People who ran businesses cannot join because the loose ends of their businesses may not have been tidied up. They were under extreme pressure and wanted to work. They were people who had worked all their lives but unfortunately, due to the recession, they cannot.

Replying on behalf of the Minister for Social Protection, Minister Michael Noonan said Tom Hayes had made many interesting points about the eligibility of self-employed persons to participate in certain schemes and he would certainly bring his views to the attention of his colleague, the Minister for Social Protection.

“Self-employed workers are liable for PRSI at the Class S rate of 4%,” he said. “Class S contributions provide cover for long-term benefits such as the State pension, contributory pension and widow’s or widower’s pension. In certain cases a self-employed person who had insurable employment in the relevant year, currently 2008, and has paid sufficient class A contributions may qualify for a Jobseeker’s Benefit payment provided all the contributions of the scheme are satisfied.”

A self-employed person who has paid insufficient class A contributions may instead qualify for Jobseeker’s Allowance. This is a means-tested payment, and in assessing a person’s means for the purpose of this allowance, account is taken of all income.

“The Minister is saying that if one examines the particulars of individual cases one may find the people concerned are entitled to all or some of a benefit or allowance and would as a consequence be eligible for some of the schemes,” he said. “I understand the Deputy’s general point that it is difficult for people who have been self-employed, whose companies have become insolvent and who are now unemployed to access the schemes.”

Full story in this week’s Tipperary Star.