Rural social scheme worth considering
The rural social scheme is another scheme that many farmers struggling to make a decent living from their farms can avail of. It is a win-win scheme for both the participants and the communities where it is active.
Basically, farmers are paid an hourly rate for work on projects such as maintaining and enhancing public walk ways or sports facilities, energy conservation work for the elderly and the less well off, village improvement projects, social care and care of the elderly, and community care for both pre-school and after-school groups.
Participants work 19.5 hours per week and, crucially for those involved, the hours are based on a farmer/fisherperson-friendly schedule.
On average, since 2008, there have been approximately 2,600 participants involved in the scheme.
While the overall responsibility for the operation of the RSS rests with the Department of Social Protection, it is implemented at local level by the 35 Local Development Companies and in the Gaeltacht areas by Údarás na Gaeltachta.
These have each been assigned a quota of participants and supervisors and have been requested to maintain a waiting list of applicants who have expressed an interest in joining the RSS, which can then be utilised to fill vacancies as they arise. The table outlines the rates of pay for participants and their qualifying dependants (see table 2, below).