Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Questions (391)

Paul Connaughton


391. Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Social Protection her future plans for rural social schemes in view of the positive impact they are having on many rural communities; her views on whether there is scope for further places on these schemes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8090/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The purpose of the rural social scheme (RSS) is to provide income support for farmers and fisherpersons who have an entitlement to specified social welfare payments. Persons are engaged for 19½ hours per week to provide certain services of benefit to rural communities. The scheme currently provides work opportunities for around 2,600 participants and 130 supervisory staff. I have no plans to increase the number of places available on this scheme. The funds allocated for 2013 amount to €45m, which should enable the scheme to continue as in previous years but does not allow for the recruitment of additional participants above the numbers stated above. The Department of Social Protection has recently published a review of employment support schemes which, together with the outcome of the focused policy assessment of the RSS which the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has indicated it intends to conduct this year, will inform future policy developments of the scheme.