Farm Ireland

Tuesday 30 May 2017

Varadkar gives hint that Farm Assist rise may be on the cards

Minister Leo Varadkar TD in the Independent Tent at the Ploughing Champ 2016
Minister Leo Varadkar TD in the Independent Tent at the Ploughing Champ 2016
Claire Mc Cormack

Claire Mc Cormack

Changes to PRSI for farmers and a potential increase to the Farm Assist and Rural Social schemes are on the cards for the upcoming budget, Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar has revealed.

Speaking at the National Ploughing Championships, the Minister said a recent review of the Farm Assist scheme was complete and sitting on his desk.

"Current PRSI of all self-employed people, including all farmers, gives you some benefits like a state pension when you retire without a means test, a pension for your widow if you were to die, or maternity benefits but what I want to do . . . is start to extending some of these benefits," he said.

"Particularly I'd like to extend cover to illness and injury benefits if someone gets injured in the course of a farm accident because there is very little they can fall back on," he said.

Other areas under consideration are changes to Farm Assist - a means-tested payment for low income farmers.

At the moment, in order to qualify farmers, aged between 18 and 66, must satisfy a means test accounting for every form of income.

There are about 8,500 people currently in receipt of Farm Assist. "As the number of people on schemes like JobBridge goes down, I'm looking at whether it would be possible to increase the number of places on the rural social scheme," Varadkar said.

There are currently about 2,500 places on the rural social schemes. However, the Irish Farmers' Association are calling for this figure to be increased to 4,000.

Irish Independent