Scéim Sóisialta Tuaithe
About The Rural Social Scheme
The Rural Social Scheme (RSS) is a community-based employment scheme funded by the Department of Employment Affairs & Social Protection and administered in Co. Cavan by Breffni Integrated CLG. The primary aim of the scheme is to provide an income support to small farmers while at the same time utilising their stock of skills and knowledge in the development of the social, financial and environmental resources of their localities.
The scheme is aimed at low-income farmers and fishermen/women. To qualify for the RSS you must be getting a social welfare payment. In return, people participating in the RSS provide services that benefit rural communities.
The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) has overall responsibility for policy in relation to the Rural Social Scheme, including eligibility criteria. The Department monitors the implementation of the RSS and supports the various bodies that manage the RSS locally. The Department may also inspect any Scheme and visit projects. At a local level, the Scheme is managed by Breffni Integrated CLG.
Works eligible for inclusion under the RSS
The type of work carried out by RSS participants includes:
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 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 or clerical work
Any other appropriate community-based project
Farmer Friendly Working Schedule and Hours Involved
Participants on the RSS work 19.5 hours per week. These hours are based on a farmer-friendly schedule. This is to ensure participation on the scheme does not affect farming activities. If a person is successful in obtaining a placement on the Scheme, they are offered a contract from their start date up to the following 31 March. The participant may then be considered for a further term following the initial contract, if they continue to meet all the criteria for the Scheme.
Breffni Integrated CLG is the body that makes a decision on your applications to the scheme. Since 1 February 2017, the time limit for participation for new entrants to the scheme will not exceed 6 years.
If a farmer is eligible for the Scheme but does not wish to participate, their dependent spouse, civil partner or cohabitant may take the available place. However, this is only if neither are participating in any other similar scheme.
Rules Governing Eligibility for the Scheme
The Rural Social Scheme provides a supplementary income for low-income farmers who are unable to earn an adequate living.
To participate in the scheme, you must be 25 years or over and getting:
If you are actively farming or fishing (this means that you must meet the criteria set out below), you may qualify for the scheme if you are getting one of the following social welfare payments:
Increase for a Qualified Adult under 66 years of age as part of your spouse, cohabitant or civil partner's State Pension (Non-Contributory)
Note that since 1 January 2016, Jobseeker's Benefit (if you had previously been on Community Employment or the Rural Social Scheme within the last 12 months) is no longer a qualifying payment for RSS. If you are getting JB you can apply for Farm Assist or Jobseeker's Allowance, which are qualifying payments for RSS.
Criteria for a farmer
You must provide proof that you are actively farming. To do this, you must provide a copy of your application for the Basic Payment Scheme for the current year, including a valid herd number. If you are actively farming and have not applied for the Basic Payment Scheme, you should contact your local RSS implementing body for advice.
Criteria for a child/sibling of a farmer
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.
Criteria for a spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of a farmer
If you are eligible but do not wish to participate in the RSS, your dependent spouse, civil partner or cohabitant 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.
Your 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.
Rates of Payment
The rates of payment for new participants on the RSS depends on your qualifying DEASP payment. The minimum weekly payment is €225.50.
From March 2019, if the actual social welfare payment (including dependants) you were getting was €203 a week or less, then you will get the minimum RSS weekly rate of €225.50 (that is €203 plus €22.50). If your actual weekly social welfare payment (including dependants) was €203.01 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 €225.50.
A Class A PRSI contribution is paid on behalf of all RSS participants. You are not liable for the Universal Social Charge (USC) on your RSS payment.
Your income is liable for tax although it is likely you will pay little or no tax. Find out more about tax.
Other social welfare payments
If you are getting other social welfare payments you should check with your Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office to find out whether they will be affected. You can retain your medical card while you are taking part in the Rural Social Scheme.
Changes to your circumstances
The rules that apply to your original social welfare payment also apply to your RSS payment. This means that, if your dependant gets a job, their income will be assessed as means and your RSS payment may be reduced. Your RSS payment cannot be reduced below the minimum rate of €225.50. To avoid any possible overpayments, if there is any change in your circumstances, you should inform your local RSS implementing body.