As the economy continues to flounder, many farming families find themselves in dire financial straits. However, there is help out there in the form of a raft of different social welfare payments that farmers are entitled to avail of.
This week, we look briefly at what's available under the two most popular schemes targeted at the farming community -- Farm Assist and the Rural Social Scheme. Next week, in conjunction with Aidan O'Boyle of Grant Thornton, we'll outline the various entitlements that every citizen has, and the differences depending on whether you are an employee or self-employed.
There has been a huge increase in the number of farmers availing of Farm Assist over the past few years. Back in 2008, there were almost 7,500 recipients. But this has mushroomed by 42pc to the point where there are now nearly 11,000 people availing of the scheme. However, the scheme has not been immune to cuts with the weekly rates reduced by €8 this year.
The scheme is a means-tested income support for farmers. It is similar to Jobseeker's Allowance but has a more generous means test. In addition, you do not need to be available for work in order to qualify for Farm Assist.
In order to qualify for Farm Assist, you must be a farmer, farming land in the State, aged between 18 and 66 and satisfy a means test. The means test takes account of virtually every form of income, but assesses it in different ways and disregards various amounts.
There are different rules applying to income from farming and other forms of self-employment, income from certain schemes, income from employment and income from capital, including property, savings and investments. Your home is not taken into account in the means test unless you derive an income from it.
An increase is payable for each child dependant (see table 1) if you are getting an increase for a qualified adult. If you do not qualify for a qualified adult increase, you may get a half-rate increase for a qualified child dependant.