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New scheme launched to make it easier for artists and writers to claim dole

Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar
Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar

The Department of Social Protection have launched a pilot scheme in a bid to make it easier for artists and writers to get social welfare.

The scheme was announced yesterday by Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar TD, and the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys.

According to a statement on the Department of Social Protection website the scheme, which will be looked at after one year, will apply to visual artists and writers.

Under the new scheme, the Department will provide for the classification of self-employed professional artists and those artists would not be subject to the activation process other jobseekers have to engage with for 12 months.

Speaking about the scheme, which was committed to as part of the Creative Ireland Programme, Minister Varadkar said: “Ireland is world-famous as a haven for art and artists who are central to our culture. This reputation for artistic achievement is part of our global USP. Promoting Ireland as a home for art and artists is central to my plans to double our global footprint in the years ahead. I believe it is only right that we allow for some flexibility within the social welfare system to allow artists to access social welfare supports when they need them. Up to now, artists have found it difficult to access social welfare and of course many artists take on extra jobs to support their livelihoods.

“Following extensive work between both Departments, with input from the Arts Council, this new mechanism will allow artists to be classified as self-employed for the purposes of accessing social welfare supports. The normal checks and balances will apply to ensure the initiative is not open to abuse, but my hope is that this will make it much easier for professional artists to access social welfare supports when they need them.

“I am really excited and enthusiastic about the Creative Ireland programme, which has the potential to transform public policy. It’s something we can all get involved in. Creative Ireland sets out to help more people take part in art and cultural activities, and above all to enjoy them.”