'Age discrimination' preventing older workers from accessing Covid-19 unemployment payment

Labour's Cllr Niall McNelis demands Government extend scheme, says self-employed are hardest hit

Workers over the age of 66 should be made eligible for the Covid-19 unemployment payment and the acting Government must "stop discriminating" on the basis of age.

This is the view of Labour Galway City West councillor, Niall McNelis, who said the continuing "age-related discrimination" of the unemployment payment was "disgraceful", and he noted that it hits the self-employed "particularly hard". Despite this, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection says it has no plans to make the payment available to the over 66s, or to those workers who are under 18 and not in education.

Cllr McNelis pointed out there is a small number of workers over 66 who were either in employment or self-employed, and use their additional non-pension income to meet bills, pay debts, and cover outgoings.

"These are all workers who earned their state pension through a lifetime of PRSI contributions," he said. "Some may be eligible for the temporary wage subsidy scheme, but it helps only a small number and does nothing for those who worked for themselves."

Cllr McNelis said these complications can be avoided by extending the eligibility of the Covid-19 pandemic unemployment payment. "It is not clear why the Department won’t budge on this," he said, "but it is clearly age-based discrimination."


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