I propose to take Questions Nos. 138, 140, 142, 155 and 165 together.
The aim of the scheme, as outlined in the Budget Statement, is to provide directly improved rural services and at the same time to ensure an income for small farmers on long-term social welfare benefits with a working week compatible with farming. Based on the funding being made available it is planned to offer up to 2,500 places on the scheme.
Savings will be made in the social welfare budget when participants cease getting payments on social welfare schemes and join the scheme. The saving in each case will vary from person to person.
It is envisaged that to be eligible to participate on the scheme a person must be on farm assist or possess a herd number and be in receipt of unemployment assistance, unemployment benefit, if previously on community employment, or disability allowance.
Funding from the dormant accounts fund for the scheme is additional to the €30 million previously announced. Guidelines for the scheme, and practical administration arrangements are currently being developed by my Department in conjunction with the relevant public bodies. I intend to bring proposals to Government when the detailed guidelines have been finalised.