More than 6,412 claims have been approved under the treatment benefit scheme for self-employed people in Westmeath since reforms were introduced by the Government, a Fine Gael TD has confirmed.
Deputy Peter Burke said the take-up shows that the reforms introduced by Fine Gael in Government are having a real impact on the lives of self-employed people.
He said; “Fine Gael has prioritised improving available supports for the self-employed. We recognise that small and medium enterprises are the life-blood of our economy, creating local employment and operating at the heart of their communities. That is why the Government introduced a new deal for the self-employed which introduced treatment benefits for the self-employed for the first time in 2017.
“Figures provided by the Department of Social Protection show that in Westmeath, 6,412 claims have been approved during 2018 and the first half of 2019. This includes 4,042 successful claims for dental benefit, 2,236 for optical benefit and 134 for the hearing aids scheme.
“This November for the first-time jobseekers benefit will also be extended to the self-employed offering a safety net and peace of mind for our entrepreneurs who will know that they will be looked after should the worst happen in respect of their business.
“Another key reform introduced by the Government was the extension of Invalidity Pension (IP ) to self-employed contributors from December 1 2017. This ensures that self-employed people have access to a social insurance based income support if they become permanently incapable of work as a result of an illness or disability, without having to go through a means test.
“To date, 867 customers whose social insurance record included self-employed (“Class S” ) PRSI contributions have benefitted from this support. The Government has committed to continuing the work of ensuring self-employed people are on an equal footing with employees. We must ensure that we support and encourage enterprise at every available opportunity.”