The Rural Social Scheme (RSS) was initiated by the then Minister for Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs, Mr. Éamon Ó Cuív, T.D. (announced in the Budget of December 2003). The RSS was launched by Minister Ó Cuív on 17th May 2004. The aims of the RSS are to provide income support for farmers and fisherpersons and to provide certain services of benefit to rural communities.

 

While responsibility for the operation of the RSS rests with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, it is managed at a local level by implementing bodies (Fingal Leader Partnership in the Dublin area)

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection monitors and visits the implementation of the RSS. Participants under RSS will be employees of their Implementing Body (Fingal Leader Partnership). While the RSS operates independently of the Community Employment Schemes, it will act to complement it in areas where both schemes are in operation.

All of the work undertaken during the RSS will be beneficial to the local community

The types of projects carried out under the RSS are likely to include:

  • Maintaining and enhancing waymarked ways, agreed walks and bog roads
  • Energy conservation work for the elderly and the less well off – the Department has recently decided to allow Groups, who deliver the Rural Social Scheme to become engaged in the delivery of the Warmer Homes Scheme and any other energy conservation scheme.
  • Village and countryside enhancement projects
  • Social care and care of the elderly, community care for both pre-school and after-school groups
  • Environmental maintenance work – maintenance and caretaking of community and sporting facilities
  • Projects relating to not for profit cultural and heritage centres
  • Community Administration/Clerical Duties
  • Any other appropriate community project identified during the course of the Scheme.

What’s involved?

RSS Participants work 19.5 hours per week and these hours are based on a farmer/fisher-friendly schedule. This is to ensure participation on the scheme does not affect your farming/fishing activities.

If you get a place on the Scheme, you are offered a contract from your start date up to the following 31 March. You may be considered for a further term following the initial contract, if you continue to meet all the criteria for the Scheme.

Since 1 February 2017, the time limit for participation for new entrants to the scheme will not exceed 6 years.

All participants commencing on the Rural Social Scheme from 1st February 2017 must be over 25 years of age.

Participants on the Rural Social Scheme must retire at the end of the last working day prior to your 66th birth date.

Your Annual Leave entitlement will be calculated in accordance with the terms of the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997.

Criteria for Farmers

Criteria for Farmers to be eligible to participate on the RSS you must:

  • Have an active herd or flock number from the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Food. (Please note that in order for you to be deemed eligible to participate on the Rural Social Scheme, you must provide proof to Fingal Leader Partnership) that you are actively farming by providing a copy of your application for the EU Single Payment Scheme for the current year, which includes a valid herd number together with a copy of the associated receipt (official proof of postage) and be in receipt of one of the following allowances from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection:
  • Farm Assist
  • Unemployment Assistance
  • Disability Allowance
  • One-Parent Family Payment
  • Widow/Widowers Pension, both Contributory and Non-Contributory
  • Be under 66 and a Qualified Adult Dependent of a recipient of the Non-Contributory Old Age Pension
  • If you are a child/sibling of a herd number owner and you can certify that you are resident and/or working on the farm and you are getting one of the qualifying social welfare payments listed, you may be eligible to participate in the RSS on the basis of your parent’s/sibling’s herd number.
  • If you are a dependent spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of a herd number owner you can take the available place.
  • Alternatively, if your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant is getting one of the qualifying social welfare payments and is actively farming, they can use your herd number to qualify for the scheme.
  • A farmer’s spouse, civil partner or cohabitant can participate in the RSS, if he/she is under 66 and you are getting a State Pension (Non-Contributory) which includes an Increase for Qualified Adult for him or her.

Criteria for Fisherperson

Criteria for Fisherperson to be eligible to participate on the RSS you must be one of the following:

  • Self-employed fisherman/woman on a fishing boat that has been entered in the Register of Fishing Boats.
  • Self-employed fisherman/woman whose boat has been issued with a pot fishing licence.
  • Self-employed fisherman/woman who has been issued with a commercial salmon fishing licence from Inland Fisheries Ireland.
  • Self-employed fisherman/woman who has been issued with a commercial eel fishing licence from Inland Fisheries Ireland.
  • Self-employed fisherman/woman who has been issued with a dredging licence for shellfish from Inland Fisheries Ireland.
  • Holders of an aquaculture licence.
  • Permit holders for shell fishing issued by a registered cooperative and
  • Be in receipt of one of the following allowances from the Department of  Agriculture Fisheries and Food.
  • Unemployment Assistance
  • Disability Allowance
  • One-Parent Family Payment
  • Widow/Widowers Pension, both Contributory and Non-Contributory
  • Be under 66 and a Qualified Adult Dependent of a recipient of the Non-Contributory Old Age Pension

A spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of a fisherman/woman can participate in the RSS, if he/she is under 66 and he/she is getting a State Pension (Non-Contributory) which includes an Increase for Qualified Adult for him/her.

Participants are paid on a weekly basis. Payment is lodged directly into participant’s bank accounts on the Thursday of each week; a pay slip will also be issued each week

Participants are entitled to retain certain secondary benefits, such as medical card, fuel allowance, back-to-school clothing and footwear allowance, etc.

PRSI contribution: A Class A PRSI contribution is paid on behalf of all RSS participants. You are not liable for the Universal Social Charge.

Tax: Participants income is liable for tax although it is likely you will pay little or no tax

Work apart from farming/fishing

Any earnings outside of a participant’s primary income i.e. farming or fishing must remain within the income threshold which applies to their underlying Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection payment.

The rates of payment for new participants on the RSS depend on your qualifying DEASP payment. The minimum weekly payment increased to €220.50 from March 2017.

  • If the actual social welfare payment (including dependents) you were getting was €198 a week or less, then you will get the minimum RSS weekly rate of €220.50 (that is €198 plus €22.50).
  • If your actual weekly social welfare payment (including dependents) was €193.01 or more, then you will get the equivalent rate plus €22.50.
  • If you were getting an age-related reduced rate of payment your payment is increased to the minimum weekly rate of €220.50.

 

Qualifying payment Rate of payment on RSS from March 2017
Jobseeker’s Allowance or Farm Assist Equal to your current rate of payment plus €22.50 top-up. Minimum weekly payment of €220.50
One-Parent Family Payment Equal to your current rate of payment plus €22.50 top-up. Minimum weekly payment of €220.50
Disability Allowance Equal to your current rate of payment plus €22.50 top-up. Minimum weekly payment of €220.50
Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Contributory Pension You continue to receive your pension with a top-up of €22.50
Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Non-Contributory Pension You continue to receive your pension with a top-up of €22.50 (The minimum combined payment is €220.50)
Qualified Adult on a State Pension (Non-Contributory) Your spouse will continue to receive the Increase for a Qualified Adult (IQA). Your rate on the RSS will be the difference between your IQA payment and €220.50.

If you have previously completed a three-year programme on CE, you will be entitled to apply to participate on RSS.
There are currently 6 Rural Social Scheme places allocated to Fingal Leader Partnership. FLP Currently have vacancies on the RSS scheme. Please contact the supervisor below for further information.

For further information please contact:
Fingal LEADER Partnership CLG, DSV House, Swords Business Park, Swords, Co Dublin
Tel:      (01) 807 4282
Email: pmoore@fingalleaderpartnership.ie
aforsyth@fingalleaderpartnership.ie
pfay@fingalleaderpartnership.ie

potatoes being picked, close up of hands
employment, boat on the sea