Thursday, 6 October 2016

Questions (24)

Michael Collins

Question:

24. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Social Protection if he intends to increase participation in the rural social scheme, RSS, to 4,000 participants given that when the rural social scheme was set up in 2004 it was designed for 4,000 participants but participation was capped at 2,600 participants, with 130 supervisors, and under the programme for Government it states there will be an increase in the numbers of RSS workers (details supplied); and if so, when. [20311/16]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The Rural Social Scheme (RSS) provides income support for farmers and fishermen who have an entitlement to specified social welfare payments. Eligibility for the scheme is on the basis that the participant is underemployed in their primary activity, either farming or fishing, and that their earnings are insufficient to support their family circumstances. The scheme currently provides work opportunities for 2,600 participants and 130 supervisory staff to provide certain services of benefit to rural communities.

The budget allocated to the RSS for 2016 is €44.3m. This allows the scheme to continue as in previous years but does not allow for the recruitment of additional participants over the numbers stated above.

The appropriate level of expenditure and the number of places on employment schemes, including RSS, will be considered in the context of Budget 2017 and subsequent budgets.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.