About the Rural Social Scheme
The Rural Social Scheme (RSS) is aimed at low-income farmers and fishermen/women. The scheme provides opportunities and income supplements to particiapants. In return, participants on the RSS scheme provide services that benefit rural communities.
Facts and Questions about the Rural Social Scheme
What type of work do participants carry out?
• Maintaining and enhancing various walking routes (that is, waymarked ways, agreed walks) and bog roads
• Energy conservation work for older people and those at risk of poverty
• Village and countryside enhancement projects
• Social care and care of older people, community care for both pre-school and after-school groups
• Environmental maintenance work - maintenance and care-taking of community and sporting facilities
• Projects relating to not-for-profit cultural and heritage centres
• Community administration or clerical work
• Any other appropriate community based project identified during the course of the scheme
How many hours' work is involved and how long does the Scheme last?
Participants work 19.5 hours per week. These hours are based on a farmer/fisher-friendly schedule. This is to ensure participation on the scheme does not affect a your farming/fishing activities. If you get a place on the Scheme, you will be offered a contract for an initial period that will be from your start date up to the following 31st March. You may be considered for a further term following the initial contract, if you continue to meet all the criteria for the Scheme.
Whether or not your application is successful is at the discretion of the local management. While it is not intended that anyone would remain on the scheme permanently, there is no definite time limit for participation.
If you are eligible for the Scheme but don’t wish to participate, your dependent spouse may take the available place. However, this is only if neither of you are participating in any other similar scheme, (for example, the Community Employment Scheme.) The Rural Social Scheme operates independently of the FÁS Community Employment Scheme (CE).
Am I eligible for the Rural Social Scheme?
The Rural Social Scheme is aimed at low-income farmers and fishermen/women unable to earn an adequate living to earn a supplementary income.
To participate in the scheme you must be getting
• Farm Assist
If you are actively farming or fishing and meet the criteria set out below, you may qualify to particpate in the scheme if you are also getting one of the following social welfare payments
• Jobseeker's Allowance,
• Jobseeker's Benefit (if previously on CE or RSS within the last 12 months),
• Disability Allowance,
• One-Parent Family Payment,
• Widow's/Widower's Contributory Pension or Widow's /Widower's Non-Contributory Pension
• Increase for a Qualified Adult under 66 years of age as part your spouse's State Pension (Non-Contributory).
Actively farming/fishing criteria
What is the criteria to apply?
You must provide proof that you are actively farming. To do this, you must provide a copy of your application for the EU Single Payment Scheme for the current year, including a valid herd number and a copy of the associated receipt (official proof of postage). If you are actively farming and have not applied for the EU Single Payment Scheme, you should contact your local implementing body for advice.
Can a child/sibling of a farmer apply?
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, you may be eligible to participate in the RSS on the basis of your parent’s/sibling’s herd number.
Can a spouse take the RSS position if available?
If you are eligible but do not wish to participate in the RSS, your dependent spouse can take the available place.
Alternatively, if your spouse is getting one of the qualifying social welfare payments and is actively farming, your spouse can use your herd number for the purposes of qualifying for the scheme.
Your spouse 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/her.
What is the weekly payment?
Weekly payment rates for the Rural Social Scheme (RSS) changed from 17 September 2012. The rates of payment for new participants on the RSS depend on your qualifying Department of Social Protection (DSP) payment. In most cases your RSS rate of payment will be equivalent to your existing payment plus a €20 top-up.
So, if the actual social welfare payment (including dependants) you were getting was €188 a week or less, then you will get the minimum weekly rate of €208 (that is €188 plus €20). If your actual weekly social welfare payment (including dependants) was €188.01 or more, then you will get the equivalent rate plus €20 (there are some exceptions to this).
If you were getting an age-related reduced rate of payment your payment is increased to the minimum weekly rate of €208.
Qualifying payment Rate of payment on RSS
Jobseeker's Allowance or Benefit, Farm Assist: Equal to your current rate of payment plus €20 top-up. Minimum weekly payment of €208.
One-Parent Family Payment: Equal to your current rate of payment plus €20 top-up. Minimum weekly payment of €208.
Disability Allowance: Equal to your current rate of payment plus €20 top-up. Minimum weekly payment of €208.
Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension: You continue to receive your pension with a top-up of €20.
Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Non-Contributory Pension: You continue to receive your pension with a top-up of €20 (The minimum combined payment is €208).
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 €208.
The amount of the increase for the adult dependant is assessed by the Department of Social Protection. This means that the rate for a participant with an adult dependant may be reduced if the adult dependant has income, for example, from part-time employment.
Any earnings outside your primary income of farming or fishing must remain within the income threshold that applies to your social welfare payment. If your earnings bring you over the income limit which determines your entitlement to a qualifying social welfare payment you will lose you place on the RSS.
If your current social welfare payment includes a reduced rate for an adult dependant, then you will be paid that equivalent on RSS. You are not entitled an RSS payment for your adult dependant (spouse/partner) if he or she earns over €310 per week.
Participants in receipt of Disability Allowance, One-Parent Family Payment, Widow's/Widower's (Contributory) Pension and Widow's/Widower's (Non-Contributory) Pension will continue to get their payment from the Department of Social Protection, along with a top-up payment from the RSS to bring their overall payment in line with the rates listed above for their family circumstances. This is different to CE.
Widow's/Widower's Contributory Pension
In 2010 the maximum rate of the Widow's/Widower's Contributory Pension is €201.50 and the RSS top-up payment is €14.50.
Participants under 66 years of age getting an Increase for a Qualified Adult (IQA) as part of your spouse's State Pension (Non-Contributory). In this case, you will get a top-up payment. The amount of top-up you get is the difference between your rate of IQA and the RSS payment. For example, if you are getting the maximum rate of IQA at €153.50 you will get an RSS payment of €62.50 in 2010.
Your income is liable for tax although it is likely you will pay little or no tax.
Other social welfare and Health Service Executive payments
RSS allows low-income farmers and fishermen/women who are unable to earn an adequate living from their farm holding or from fishing earn a supplementary income. If you are getting other social welfare or Health Service Executive (HSE) payments you should check with your Social Welfare Local Office or Local Health Office, to find out if it will be affected.
How to apply
For more information on the Rural Social Scheme , please contact our RSS Supervisor.