The Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar has said that the Farm Assist income and child disregards reintroduced in last October’s Budget, will automatically apply to all recipients of the scheme from March 8 next.
IFA Rural Development Chairman Joe Brady has welcomed the announcement and said the reversal of previous Budgets decision on the disregards was a welcome boost to low income farmers and avoiding a full means test reassessment at this stage is vitally important for the 8,000 farmers in receipt of this important payment.
Farm Assist will be worth €83m in 2017 and IFA estimates farmers who previously would not have qualified may now be eligible as income qualification limits drop.
The IFA Rural Development Chairman said that the 30% income disregard and the child disregards of €254 for the first two children and €381 for the third and subsequent child will mean a significant increase for some farmers.
As an example, where a farmer’s spouse is not working and they have no children, with an assessed farm income of €10,000, their farm assist increase will increase from €120.50/week to €186.50.
This is as a result of 30% disregards, the €5/week increase in the personal rate of Social Protection payment and a €3.30 increase in the dependant rate. If there were dependent children, the payment level would be higher.
Joe Brady has also reminded farmers that 500 additional Rural Social Scheme places are available bringing the total number of places in this important social employment scheme to 3,100.