News & Media

Ministers failure to acknowledge PUP foul up is a slap in the face for the self employed

31 July 2020

Statement by Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD
Spokesperson on Education, Enterprise and Trade
Aodhan

The Minister for Social Protections failure to acknowledge the foul up with the Pandemic Unemployment Payment is a slap in the face for the self-employed people affected by the anomaly according to Labour Enterprise Spokesperson, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin,

 

Deputy Ó Ríordáin was speaking after receiving a reply to a Parliamentary Question from Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys after he asked her to address the issue.

 

Deputy Ó Ríordáin said:

 

“I am aghast at the Ministers reply where she has told me that it is not possible to address the issue because of the way the department is organised.

 

The excuse given is that it is not possible for Revenue to combine calculate PAYE tax payers on a weekly basis by Revenue and Self- Employed on a yearly basis and as a result they cannot combine PAYE and Self Employed income for consideration. This makes no sense. Either someone has earned enough income, or they haven’t! They shouldn’t be victimised because of complicated departmental systems.”

 

“This is blatant discrimination against self-employed people who also do some PAYE work. Minister Humphrey’s refusal to even acknowledge this in her reply is shocking. I am afraid that she is being deliberately disingenuous. My worry is that they have completely overlooked and miscalculated the extent of the anomaly on this group and are now afraid of how much it will cost to treat people affected fairly.

 

Applicants who are above the income threshold with a mixture of PAYE and self-employed income should be allowed access the higher rate. I am also worried that thousands of workers who should qualify even on self-employed income alone are being wrongly paid the lower rate because they worked a few PAYE hours. Does the Minister genuinely not know that people in the arts and other sectors often earn a combination of PAYE and self-employed income in a given year? As a former Enterprise Minister, I find that very hard to believe.

 

“I looked for the Dáil to be recalled because Minister Humphreys needs to come clean and address this issue directly. She needs to outline her views on the anomaly and to publish the figures showing the exact amount of people affected by this policy which her reply does not give. To say that the figures requested are not available because it would involve ‘extensive data matching across multiple IT systems’ is a cop out.

Ó Ríordáin continued:

“Minister Humphreys failure to even acknowledge the PUP foul up is a slap in the face to the potentially thousands of self-employed people affected by the PUP foul up. These are hardworking people that have earned enough to qualify for the higher rate and the Minister’s response is an insult to them, she needs to instruct her officials to find out exactly how many people were affected by this and commit to correcting it as a matter of urgency.  Using IT systems inability to talk to each other as an excuse is a serious warning sign that the government have no idea of the scale of this problem.