Minister for Employment and Small Business Pat Breen has described an increase in the numbers of Rural Social Scheme places in Clare for the first time in 11 years as not only a financial support for potential participants but a boost for local rural communities.
“Clare Local Development Company will be informed by my colleague the Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar, that the number of Rural Social Scheme quota in Clare is to increase by 26 to 143. This is the first increase in places since 2006 in scheme to support farmers, fishermen and local communities,” said Minister Breen.
“The extra places will strengthen the Rural Social Scheme by supporting more farming and fishing families on low incomes. The Scheme is delivered through 35 Implementing Bodies or Local Development Companies - including Clare Local Development Company, and Údarás na Gaeltachta” added the Clare Fine Gael minister of state.
“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, or find it difficult to maintain a sustainable income,” he said.
“It also gives participants 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.”
Participants must be actively farming or fishing with an underlying entitlement to a qualifying Department of Social Protection payment, such as Farm Assist, in order to be eligible. Most participants receive a weekly payment Farm Assist payment of €188 a week (equal to the maximum personal rate on Farm Assist) (rising to €193 from Mid-March), and an additional €22.500 top-up per week under the Rural Social Scheme.