Self-employed to be surveyed over benefits reform

Review aims to determine if group is willing to pay higher PRSI in return for entitlements

The Minister for Social Protection will today launch a survey of 20,000 self-employed people to find out if they are willing to pay higher social insurance in return for more State benefits.

Leo Varadkar will announce the initiative today as the first step of ambitious plans to reform Pay-Related Social Insurance (PRSI) for self-employed people.

He brought a memorandum to Government in June outlining his proposals.

He has already indicated he wants to have a PRSI system that is closer to models in Europe.


That would establish a clearer link between the contributions paid and the entitlements.

Extent of benefits

“There is plenty of evidence that self-employed people are not dissatisfied with the extent of the benefits they receive in return for paying PRSI.

“I want to find out what new benefits they would most like to receive, such as long-term illness, injury, jobseeker and dental treatment benefits, or whether they would prefer to maintain the status quo,” Mr Varadkar said.

“The survey informs self-employed people which benefits are currently available to them, whether they consider them good value, and how much extra PRSI they would consider paying for access to greater benefits.”

The matter has also been highlighted by Fine Gael Senator Ray Butler, who raised the matter in the Seanad.

He said that despite paying PRSI at the same rate of 4 per cent, self-employed people have not benefited from the same range of protections as PAYE employees.

Celtic Tiger crash

“We are the only country in industrialised Europe that doesn’t have protection for these business people.

“We just simply can’t ignore this or leave the situation the way it is any longer, especially when we have seen so many lives of the self-employed destroyed during the Celtic Tiger crash,” he said.

Those being surveyed include sole traders, partners, farmers, professionals and company directors.

They will be asked if they consider the current PRSI contributions represent value for money, and how much more PRSI they would be willing to pay.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times