NEWLY appointed Chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Maurice Quinlivan has called on the government to expand the Enterprise Support Grant to include workers over the age of 66.
Speaking to the Limerick Post this week, Deputy Quinlivan hit out at the government for excluding workers in this age bracket from support.
“Since the onset of the Covid-19 crisis, numerous schemes and supports were announced for workers. But one of the flagship schemes, the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), deliberately excludes workers over the age of 66 in an unfair and discriminatory manner,” he explained.
The Limerick Sinn Fein TD pointed out that one of the consequences of the last financial crash was that many workers took on debt, remortgaged houses or took out loans to put children through education.
“They have had to stay working past 66 in order to pay off this debt. This situation was widely pointed out to the government at the time of the establishment of the PUP scheme.
“As well as this, many self-employed businesspeople over the age of 66 have fixed repayments and commitments associated with their business, and they now have additional restarting costs to get back up and running.
“It is incredibly frustrating to see self-employed and sole traders over the age of 66 excluded from access to the Enterprise Support Grant,” he claimed.
Deputy Quinlivan says his office has been inundated with emails and calls from self-employed and sole traders who are excluded from the Enterprise Support Grant because a prerequisite to access funding is having been in receipt of the PUP payment.
“They feel utterly let down and ignored. This new scheme is an slap in the face to them.
“These self-employed businesspeople were unemployed due to Covid-19 and managed to weather the crisis so far without access to the PUP. They are now trying to restart their businesses, but unlike other self-employed businesspeople, they cannot access the Enterprise Support Grant.
“This grant is a simple one of up to €1,000, and it seems very mean-spirited and ageist that the government would exclude self-employed businesspeople because they are over 66.
“The government should restructure the grant to ensure older self-employed people are included,” he concluded.