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Rural Schemes

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 7 October 2021

Thursday, 7 October 2021

Ceisteanna (91)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

91. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will remove the six-year cap on participation on the rural social scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48451/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Social)

The Rural Social scheme (RSS) is an income support scheme providing part-time employment opportunities for farmers and fishermen or women who are in receipt of specified social welfare payments, and who are underemployed in their primary occupation. The scheme offers participants the opportunity to gain valuable work experience in their communities.Following a Government decision, the number of places on RSS was increased by 750 during 2017 and 2018, and a six-year time limit was introduced for new entrants, with effect from 1st February 2017. Therefore, it will be February 2023 before the first group of RSS participants are due to leave the scheme on the basis of the 6-year rule. Prior to the introduction of the six year limit, a RSS participant could remain on the scheme for a significant part of their working life. This had the effect of limiting places available on RSS and reducing the opportunities available to new applicants. RSS participants who commenced on the scheme prior to 1st February 2017 can remain on the RSS for as long as they continue to remain eligible for a qualifying social welfare payment. The Department continues to monitor all of the employment support programmes and, while there are no immediate plans to remove the six year cap on participation on the RSS at present, the Department intends to undertake a review of RSS in 2022.

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