Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Ceisteanna (565)

Pa Daly

Ceist:

565. Deputy Pa Daly asked the Minister for Social Protection if the removal of time limits for the rural social scheme will be approved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26882/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

The Rural Social Scheme (RSS) is an income support initiative providing part-time employment opportunities for farmers or fishers in receipt of certain social welfare payments, and underemployed in their primary occupation, within their local area in community and voluntary organisations.  Communities benefit from the skills and talents of local farmers and fishers and the RSS participants have the opportunity to improve and develop new or existing skills, while performing this valuable work in their local communities.

The RSS scheme has played an important role in sustaining rural communities, with participants having the opportunity to improve existing, or develop new skills, whilst performing valuable work in their local communities.  In tandem, communities as a whole benefit from the skills and talents of local farmers and fishers, and individual community groups have benefited from the many projects undertaken through the scheme.

During 2017 and 2018 the number of places funded on RSS was increased by 750, bringing the total number of places available to 3,350.  A six-year time limit was also introduced at that time for new RSS with effect from 01/02/2017.  Prior to the introduction of the six year time limit, an RSS participant could remain on the RSS scheme for a significant part of their working life.  This had the effect of restricting the turnover of places on RSS and thereby reducing the opportunities for potential new entrants.

There are no plans to remove the six year participation limit on RSS at this time.  The participation limit ensures that places will continue to be available to new RSS participants while also encouraging participants to explore other employment and training opportunities available.

RSS participants who commenced on RSS prior to 01/02/2017 can remain on the scheme provided they continue to satisfy the eligibility criteria.