Majority of self-employed would pay more to get PRSI benefits

Survey finds that 74 per cent of self-employed people would be interested in a system of voluntary extra contributions to access more benefits

A new survey commissioned by Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar has found a majority of self-employed people would be willing to pay more in order to receive more PRSI benefits. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

A new survey commissioned by Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar has found a majority of self-employed people would be willing to pay more in order to receive more PRSI benefits. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

Three out of four self-employed people favour paying a higher rate of social insurance to allow them to receive similar benefits as PAYE workers.

A new survey commissioned by Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar has found a majority of self-employed people would be willing to pay more in order to receive more PRSI benefits.

More than 80 per cent of those surveyed put long-term illness benefit as their top priority.

The survey of self-employed people found that 74 per cent of respondents would be interested in a system of voluntary extra contributions to access more benefits.

It also found that almost 90 per cent of self-employed people would pay a higher headline rate of PRSI in return for a specific extra benefit. Their top choices for extra benefits would be cover for long-term illness, short-term illness or unemployment.

State benefits

Until now, self-employed people who have found themselves with no work, or who have become ill, or whose companies have failed, have been unable to access State benefits.

Mr Varadkar has introduced changes to that system allowing self-employed people access benefits if they paid more social insurance.

Last month self-employed people became eligible for the optical and dental treatment benefit scheme for the first time.

More benefits will follow later this year including the restoration of scale and polish treatment under the dental scheme, and the option of a free spectacles or a contribution towards a more expensive pair under the optical scheme. From now on, the restoration of benefits such as these will be available to both employees and the self-employed.

Illness cover

“As someone who believes that self-employed people deserve to be supported by Government and treated equally in terms of tax and social insurance, this survey helped me to [introduce benefits],” said Mr Varadkar.

“We are already tackling one of the top demands for illness cover by giving self-employed people access to the Invalidity Pension later this year, without a means test. For the first time they will have access to the safety-net of State income supports if they become permanently unable to work through illness or disability. There will be no increase in PRSI for this.”

The survey had a sample of 3,200 respondents.