Fine Gael Kildare South TD Martin Heydon, has said Budget 2017 is a significant step forward for self-employed people in Ireland, by using the benefits of a strong economy to improve their lives.

“Minister for Finance Michael Noonan today announced that the Earned Income Tax Credit for the self-employed is to be increased by €400, bringing it to €950. This is another step on the road towards tax equalisation for the self-employed and our commitment in the Programme for Government, to increase the Earned Income Tax Credit from €550 to €1,650 for the self-employed by 2018, to match the PAYE credit. It will benefit approximately 150,000 self-employed taxpayers.

“Fine Gael is also today extending more social benefits to the self-employed. These include:- Dental, Optical and Hearing Aid benefits to be extended to self-employed workers from March 2017
–  Dental Benefit to be expanded in October for all insured employees and the self-employed
–  Optical Benefits to be expanded in October for all insured workers, including the self-employed to cover the cost of glasses or a contribution towards the cost, depending on customer choice.
–  Invalidity Pension eligibility to be extended to self-employed workers from December 2017.

“Budget 2017 will also help self-employed people and small business owners to create more jobs, as only a strong economy supporting people at work can pay for the services needed to create a fair society. Fine Gael is encouraging entrepreneurs by extending the Start Your Own Business scheme for a further two years. Its continuation will be of real benefit in providing support to long term unemployed persons who wish to create new businesses.

“I know from speaking with many self-employed people that Brexit now poses many challenges for them. This budget will help them respond to those challenges and counter the effects of Brexit. Among the measures to help Irish businesses impacted by Brexit are:

– New resources for our enterprise agencies to put more people on the ground in foreign markets to help Irish businesses
– New schemes related to risk sharing under development;
– An agri-food package of measures;
– Maintaining our strong support for the tourism sector.

“Our SMEs employ most of our workforce and are the backbone of our local communities.

“This budget delivers for the self-employed and while we cannot achieve all we want in one year Fine Gael is using the benefits of a strong economy to improve people’s lives.”