Sinn Féin councillor Thérèse Ruane has welcomed the passing of a motion at the recent Sinn Féin Ard Fheis calling on the Minister for Social Protection to introduce a category of social welfare for self-employed people who find themselves without employment or income due to the continuing economic decline.
Cllr Ruane first raised the need for this to be reviewed in June 2010 and secured the unanimous backing of Castlebar Town Council at that time for such supports. Speaking to the floor of the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis, she said that it ”beggars belief” that no progress has been made on this issue and called for supports to be introduced as a matter of urgency to alleviate the plight of the former self-employed.
Cllr Ruane said: “I really welcome the passing of this motion. This is a really important issue and frankly it beggars belief that no progress has been made on this. I have been lobbying and campaigning for the introduction of a social welfare category for more than two years now. People who worked as sub contractors in the construction industry and small retailers make up the bulk of the cases. The majority weren’t the big earners during the Celtic tiger; most worked for a weekly wage. As self employed people they could not legally make 10.75 per cent rate of PRSI contribution and now they're being penalised. Many are struggling to survive and to meet their mortgage repayments, loan repayments, the costs of day to day living. They need the support of the State but when they apply for social welfare assistance, they are told they don’t qualify.
“In my work supporting women setting up new enterprises, I see first hand how the lack of social welfare supports are impacting in a negative way on new business ventures and entrepreneurship, something that is so badly needed in the current economic recession. Many entrepreneurs with sound business ideas are reluctant to set up a business as in the event of a venture not working, they will then be denied social welfare and will have nothing to support themselves or their families.
“People who were formerly self employed but whose work has dried up or business closed down are unemployed. They have no income and are having great difficulties meeting mortgage repayments, loan repayments, the costs of day to day living. They need the support of the State and as a matter of urgency a category of social welfare for self-employed needs to be introduced,” Cllr Ruane concluded.