Thursday, 17 April 2014

Questions (135)

Éamon Ó Cuív


135. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Social Protection if she has considered the document entitled Focus Policy Assessment of the Rural Social Scheme; if she will amend the scheme as a result; the proposed changes to the scheme; her views on whether the scheme is an activation measure or a work for income support scheme for small farmers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18441/14]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The rural social scheme (RSS) provides income support for farmers and those engaged in fishing who have an entitlement to specified social welfare payments. Participants are engaged for 19½ hours per week to provide certain services of benefit to rural communities.

The scheme currently provides work opportunities for 2,600 participants and 130 supervisory staff. The funds allocated for 2014 amount to €45m. This level of funding will allow the scheme to continue along the same lines in 2014 as in previous years but does not allow for the recruitment above the numbers stated above. As of the week ending 11 April, there were 2562 participants and 130 supervisors engaged on the RSS.

As with all schemes, the Department is required to ensure that the RSS remains effective, provides value for money and is in line with other policies being developed and delivered. The recommendations made in the Focused Policy Assessment will be carefully examined by the Department of Social protection to determine the improvements, if any, that should be made to the RSS and to consider if the scope of the scheme should be orientated more towards the activation needs of the jobseekers.