The Rural Social Scheme (RSS) is an income support initiative which provides part-time employment opportunities in community and voluntary organisations for farmers or fishermen who are in receipt of certain social welfare payments and underemployed in their primary occupation. It is a supplementary income support scheme designed specifically for those participants whose income falls below a certain limit. To remain eligible to participate on the scheme the participant must be actively farming or fishing and satisfy the means test pertaining to the farm/fish assist or jobseekers allowance.
The means assessment for RSS includes income that the participant and their spouse/civil partner or cohabitant has and means derived from any capital or property (except their own home). In general, the means assessment that applies to the RSS is the farm assist scheme criteria. Accordingly, 70% of all self-employment (engaged in by a participant and their spouse/ civil partner) whether farm or off-farm is assessed as the gross yearly income which they may be reasonably expected to receive less all costs necessarily incurred in carrying out the self-employment.
Payment of RSS is not taken into account when assessing the weekly means. An additional annual disregard of €254 for each of the first two children and €381 for the third and subsequent children is also applied under the farm assist criteria, where applicable.
This Department endeavours at all times to ensure that only eligible customers benefit from the scheme. This also applies to people who are already participating on a scheme. Any change in a participant's/household's circumstances should be notified to the Department as this may impact on their continued entitlement and their rate of payment.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.