Labour TD Seán Sherlock has said that workers over 66 should be eligible for the Covid-19 unemployment payment and that the acting Government must stop discriminating on the basis of age.

·        Workers over 66 deserve respect

Deputy Sherlock: “This is an issue that has been raised with me by a number of people, and it easy to fix.

“The Covid-19 pandemic unemployment payment was quickly introduced and I accept there were some anomalies but many of those were quickly addressed, and we were willing to give the Government time to do that. “However the disgraceful age-related discrimination against workers aged 66 and older continues. This in particular hits the self-employed hard.

“In a reply to Labour TD Ged Nash, the Department confirmed they have no plans to make the payment available to the over 66s or indeed to those workers who are under 18 and not in education.

“The Labour Party now wants to see the payment extended to workers over the age of 66, and those under 18 who were working, but are no longer able to earn an income.

“For example there is a small cohort of workers over 66 who were either in employment or self-employed and used 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.

“While some workers may be eligible for the temporary wage subsidy scheme, this will help only a small number and does nothing for those who worked for themselves.

“Self-employed workers who need additional income have been told to apply for a supplementary welfare allowance (SWA).

“That is a rigmarole that could be avoided by simply extending the eligibility of the Covid-19 pandemic unemployment payment. It’s not clear why the department won’t budge on this but it is clearly age-based discrimination.

“SWA requires making contact with the Community Welfare Officer and providing comprehensive income and expenditure details. Some may not qualify due to the income limit. There is a simple solution that would resolve this quickly. I am calling on the Government and the Minister to now relent on this and do the right thing.”