Wednesday, 4 February 2004

Ceisteanna (51, 52, 53, 54, 55)

Kathleen Lynch

Ceist:

138 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his proposals for the rural social programme announced in the budget; when the scheme is expected to commence; the way in which it will operate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3089/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Perry

Ceist:

140 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs when the new rural employment scheme will commence as announced in the budget to take 2,500 off farm assist and bring them into community type schemes; the way in which this scheme will operate and the person who will be in charge; if those on disability allowance or benefit will be eligible; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3198/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Phil Hogan

Ceist:

142 Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the situation regarding funding for the new rural social economy programme; if the €10 million promised to this scheme, allocated from the dormant funds account programme, will come from the €30 million allocated to community development programmes in 2004 or will be additional to the latter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3224/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jimmy Deenihan

Ceist:

155 Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the savings which have been identified in social welfare to part fund the new rural social scheme in his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3235/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Eamon Ryan

Ceist:

165 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his views on the way in which the rural development jobs programme is proceeding. [3165/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs)

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.