I would like to welcome this morning’s news that self-employed people and business owners could be treated the same as PAYE workers from the next Budget, as set out in the “Standing Up For Small Business” campaign, which the Taoiseach will launch next week. The two main changes involve reducing the higher rate of USC paid by business owners, and allowing self-employed people to claim unemployment benefit should they find themselves unemployed.
There will also be a return of tax rebates towards redundancy costs for businesses forced to lay off staff – which was the case before the recession, where businesses were assisted for up to 60% of redundancy costs.
These measures are most welcome, as self-employed workers have been forced to bear a greater burden of the austerity taxes introduced after the collapse of the economy. I hope that this ‘Standing Up for Small Business’ campaign will deliver on its stated mission to “level the playing field” between self-employed and PAYE workers, as it’s clear that self-employed people are paying more tax, yet if they get into trouble, receive fewer supports: this needs to change.
Currently, self-employed workers whose businesses go to the wall are forced to endure an arduous means-tested process to receive social welfare payments. For many tradesmen, small business owners or taxi drivers, this often means they are deprived of supports that they would receive if they were regular PAYE workers. In my opinion, this situation is wrong, and I hope that this policy will remedy that inequity.