Minister Doherty announces details of 250 extra Rural Social Scheme places
Details of where the 250 extra places on the Rural Social Scheme (RSS), which were part of the last Budget, will be allocated has been announced.
The new places will provide support for an additional 250 low-income farmers and fishermen to carry out valuable community-based work, thereby helping to deliver on a Programme for Government commitment to rural Ireland.
Announcing the increase, Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty T.D said: "At the outset, I would first like to reiterate my support, and that of the Government, for the Rural Social Scheme. In recognition of the valuable work undertaken in rural communities under the RSS, I am very pleased to announce that an additional 250 places will be made available under the Scheme. Overall this represents an increase of over 28% in the places available under the RSS in the past two years – from 2,600 to 3,350.
“Since the RSS was launched in 2004, it has delivered a range of positive benefits for both participants and their local communities. The RSS has become a key aspect of community action in many rural areas and is popular with both participants and local sponsors/community groups. While communities benefit from the skills and talents of local farmers and fishermen, participants also have the opportunity to improve existing skills, or develop new skills, while performing valuable work in their local communities.”
The Minister added: “The RSS has established itself at the centre of rural life in communities throughout the country. Significantly, it also supports participants to remain involved in farming or fishing in their local areas. It shows the Government’s ongoing commitment to supporting and sustaining rural Ireland.”
The work carried out under the Scheme helps to support countless sports clubs, community services and rural facilities. It is also an important source of extra income to farmers and fishermen who may be working in agriculture or fishing on a part-time basis and who have a low income. It also gives them an opportunity to develop new skills. Participants provide 19.5 hours a week on a local rural or community project in a return for a top-up on their social welfare payments.
The Scheme is especially important in the west, north-west and south of Ireland where there are a higher representation of farm assist recipients. Participants work on the following type of projects:
• Caretaking at community and sporting facilities