Thursday, 12 October 2017
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Rural Social Scheme Data
166. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of rural social scheme participants to date in 2017, by county; the number that have been called for review or reassessment to date in 2017, by county; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43211/17]
167. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of rural social scheme participants in County Kerry to date in 2017; the number that have been called for review in County Kerry to date in 2017; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43212/17]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 166 and 167 together.
As the Deputy is aware, the rural social scheme (RSS) provides opportunities for farmers and fishermen/women who are currently in receipt of specified social welfare payments to work to provide certain services of benefit to rural communities. Communities benefit from the skills and talents of local farmers and fishermen and participants have the opportunity to improve existing skills, or develop new skills, while performing this valuable work in their local communities. As part of the social welfare budget package for 2018, I am pleased to announce an additional 250 RSS places are being provided, increasing the total number of RSS participants from 3,100 to 3,350.
To be eligible to participate on the RSS, an individual must satisfy the qualifying criteria for the scheme and maintain an underlying entitlement to Farm/Fish Assist while participating on the scheme. This ensures that only those in need of income support for their farming/fishing enterprise benefit from the scheme. In addition, the rate of payment to the participant can be reviewed at any stage to ensure that participants continue to receive their correct entitlement. This practice has been in place since the commencement of the scheme and applies to all participants on the scheme regardless of their location.
Table 1gives a breakdown by county of the number of RSS participants at the 30thSeptember, 2017 and a breakdown of the RSS reviews to date in 2017.
|County||No. RSS participants at end Sept 2017||No. of Reviews in 2017 (Jan –30th Sept)|
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.