Guide to the Rural Social Scheme


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Your Questions Answered

  1. What is the Rural Social Scheme?
  2. What are the benefits of the RSS to rural communities?
  3. Can I submit a project for inclusion on the RSS?
  4. What is involved for Participants on the RSS?
  5. Can I participate on the RSS?
  6. If I am currently on a CE Scheme, can I transfer directly to the RSS?
  7. How much will I be paid?
  8. Will participants have to pay PAYE, Universal Social Charge and PRSI?
  9. Will this job be on a permanent basis?
  10. How many places on the RSS will be in my region?
  11. Can I do other work apart from farming/fishing?
  12. Can I retain my medical card and other secondary benefits?
  13. If my spouse is working, can I still join the RSS?
  14. Can my spouse participate on the RSS in my place?
  15. If I become entitled to the Widow(er)'s Pension (Contributory or Non-Contributory), One-Parent Family Payment or the Disability Allowance while participating on the Scheme, what should I do?
  16. How do I apply, or who do I contact for more information on the RSS

Q.1. What is the Rural Social Scheme?

The provision of a Rural Social Scheme (RSS) was announced in the Budget of December 2003 and was launched by Minister Ó Cuív on 17th May 2004. The aims of the RSS are to provide income support for farmers and fisherpersons who are currently in receipt of specified Social Welfare payments, and to provide certain services of benefit to rural communities. The RSS allows low-income farmers and fisherpersons who are unable to earn an adequate living from their farm holding/fishing, to earn a supplementary income.

While responsibility for the operation of the RSS rests with the Department of Social Protection, it is managed at a local level, on our behalf, by the Local Development Companies (LDCs) and in the Gaeltacht by Údarás na Gaeltachta (the Implementing Bodies).

 

Q.2. What are the benefits of the RSS to rural communities?

  • The RSS provides additional resources to maintain and improve local amenities and facilities in rural communities
  • Communities benefit from the skills and talents of local farmers and fisherpersons
  • Participants experience opportunities to improve existing, or develop new skills, and perform valuable work in the community

 

Q.3. Can I submit a project for inclusion on the RSS?

Each Implementing Body will seek applications, in advance of the 1st April annually from potential project promoters for work projects that are compatible with the objectives of the RSS and fit into the categories outlined at Q.4. Further information on submitting projects, along with an application form, may be obtained from your local Implementing Body.

Q.4. What is involved for Participants on the RSS?

All of the work undertaken while participating on the RSS will be beneficial to the local community. The types of projects carried out under the RSS are likely to include:

  • Maintaining and enhancing waymarked ways, agreed walks and bog roads
  • Energy conservation work for the elderly and the less well off
  • Village and countryside enhancement projects
  • Social care and care of the elderly, community care for both pre-school and after-school groups
  • Environmental maintenance work - maintenance and caretaking of community and sporting facilities
  • Projects relating to not for profit cultural and heritage centres
  • Community Administration/Clerical duties
  • Any other appropriate community project identified during the course of the Scheme

You will work 19.5 hours per week and these hours will be based on a farmer/fisherperson-friendly schedule.

Your Annual Leave entitlement will be calculated in accordance with the terms of the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997.

Q.5. Can I participate on the RSS?

To be eligible to participate on the RSS you must be in receipt of Farm/Fish Assist or one of the qualifying Social Welfare payments outlined below
AND
meet the criteria as set out below for either a Farmer or a Fisherperson.

Criteria for a Self-Employed Farmer

In order to be deemed eligible to participate on the Rural Social Scheme, you must provide proof to your Implementing Body that you are actively farming, by providing a copy of your application for the EU Single Payment Scheme for the current year, which includes a valid herd number together with a copy of the associated receipt (official proof of postage). If you are actively farming and have not applied for the EU Single Payment Scheme, you should contact your local Implementing Body who will be able to advise you further.

Criteria for a Self Employed Fisherperson

Fisherpersons that meet any of the following categories can be considered eligible to participate on the RSS:

  • Self employed fisherperson on a fishing boat, which has been entered in the Register of Fishing Boats.
  • Self employed fisherperson whose boat has been issued with a Pot Fishing Licence. The Department of Communication, Energy and Natural Resources introduced this for small fishing boats such as currachs who traditionally have fished for Lobsters and were mainly unlicensed.
  • Self employed fisherperson who has been issued with a Commercial Salmon Fishing Licence from one of the seven Regional Fisheries Boards.
  • Self employed fisherperson who has been issued with a Commercial Eel Fishing Licence from one of the seven Regional Fisheries Boards.
  • Self employed fisherperson who has been issued with a dredging licence for shellfish from one of the seven Regional Fisheries Boards.
  • Holders of an Aquaculture licence issued by the Department of Communication, Energy and Natural Resources.
  • Permit holders for shell fishing issued by a registered Cooperative.

In additional to fulfilling the above criteria, the Participant must be in receipt of one of the qualifying payment(s) from the Department of Social Protection.

Qualifying Social Welfare payments:
  • Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Jobseeker's Benefit, if previously on a Community Employment (CE) Scheme or on the RSS AND that your term on that Scheme ceased within the last 12 months.
  • One-Parent Family Payment
  • Widow(er)'s Pension – (Contributory or Non-Contributory)
  • Disability Allowance
  • Adult Dependants of Non-Contributory Old Age Pensioners who themselves are under 66.

Please note: Illness Benefit is not a qualifying Social Welfare payment for the RSS.

Eligibility of children/siblings of a Herd/Flock/Pig Herd/Equine Number Owner:
If you are a child/sibling of a herd/flock/pig herd/equine number owner and you can certify that you are resident and/or working on the farm AND are in receipt of one of the qualifying Social Welfare payments, as outlined, you may be eligible to participate on the RSS on the basis of your parent's/sibling's herd/flock/pig herd/equine number. Should this situation apply to you, it should be noted on your Application Form and discussed with your local Implementing Body.

Please note; there is only one RSS place per Herd/Flock/Pig Herd/Equine Number.

Q.6. If I am currently on a CE Scheme, can I transfer directly to the RSS?

Persons currently on CE who meet the underlying criteria for the RSS, are not eligible to transfer directly over to RSS. To be eligible to participate on the RSS, you must meet the criteria and be in receipt of one of the qualifying Social Welfare payments as outlined in Q.5.

Q.7. How much will I be paid?

Rates

Changes to rates for Rural Social Scheme (RSS) weekly payments are effective from the 17th September 2012. The rates of payment for new participants on the RSS depend on your qualifying Department of Social Protection (DSP) payment.

So, if the actual social welfare payment (including dependants) you were getting was €188 a week or less, then you will get the minimum weekly rate of €208 (that is €188 plus €20). If your actual weekly social welfare payment (including dependants) was €188.01 or more, then you will get the equivalent rate plus €20 (There are some exceptions to this).

DSP Qualifying Payment Rate of Payment
Jobseeker's Allowance/Benefit, Farm Assist Equal to your current rate of payment plus €20 top-up. Minimum weekly payment of €208
One Parent Family Payment (OPFP) Equal to your current rate of payment plus €20 top-up. Minimum weekly payment of €208
Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension Equal to your current rate of payment plus €20 top-up. Minimum weekly payment of €208
Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Non-Contributory Pension Equal to your current rate of payment plus €20 top-up. Minimum weekly payment of €208
Disability Allowance (DA) Equal to your current rate of payment plus €20 top-up. Minimum weekly payment of €208
Qualified Adult on a State Pension (Non-Contributory) (IQA) Your spouse will continue to receive the IQA payment. Your rate on the RSS will be the difference between your IQA payment and €208.

 

Q.8. Will participants have to pay PAYE, Universal Social Charge and PRSI?

  • An 'A' PRSI contribution will be paid in respect of all participants.
  • All wage payments to participants are assessable for Income Tax (PAYE) purposes. However, the actual amount payable by an individual will depend on his/her circumstances.
  • Participants on the RSS will be exempt from paying the Universal Social Charge.

 

Q.9. Will this job be on a permanent basis?

Participation on the RSS is not intended to be on a permanent basis. The operation of the RSS is reviewed annually on the 1st April. In advance of this date, the Implementing Bodies publicise the RSS, inviting applicants to the RSS in respect of the recruitment of Participants, along with submissions from local organisations promoting projects and work plans under the Scheme. If your application is successful, you will be offered a place on the RSS for an initial period up to the following 31st March (annual renewal date for contracts). Following your initial contract, you will need to complete a renewal form and if you still remain eligible and fulfil all underlying criteria for the Scheme and sufficient places are still available, you will then be considered for participation for a further term or for inclusion on any waiting list that may be in operation. In the event of an over subscription of eligible applicants, all applications will be assessed and all available places will be allocated in accordance with specific eligibility criteria. If necessary, a waiting list for places will then be formed for the remainder of these applicants.

Q.10. How many places on the RSS will be in my region?

Currently there are a total of 2,600 placements throughout the country. The number of available places is subject to ongoing review. You should liaise with your local Implementing Body who will be able to advise you further.

Q. 11. Can I do other work apart from farming/fishing?

As a Participant on RSS you will be permitted to undertake employment outside of your primary income of either farming or fishing. However, your earnings should remain within the income threshold, which applies to your underlying Social Welfare payment. In the event that your earnings bring you in excess of the income limit, which determined your entitlement to your qualifying Social Welfare payment, in the first instance, your continued participation on the RSS could be affected.

Q.12. Can I retain my medical card and other secondary benefits?

While, the Rural Social Scheme is recognised as a qualifying payment type for the purpose of assessing entitlement to certain secondary benefits, such as medical card, fuel allowance, back-to-school clothing and footwear allowance, entitlement to any such benefits to Participants of the RSS is entirely a matter for the relevant paying authorities i.e. the Department of Social Protection and the Health Service Executive.
Therefore, as a Participant on the RSS you will still be required to meet the terms and conditions attached to the secondary benefits, as set out by the relevant paying authority, in order to continue to qualify for any such payments.

If you think your participation on the RSS may affect any current entitlement to secondary benefits payable to either you, or your spouse, you should check with your local Social Welfare Office/Health Service Executive Office, as appropriate, for further clarification.

Q.13. If my spouse is working, can I still join the RSS?

Should you be deemed eligible under the criteria as outlined in Q.5, your participation on the RSS will not be affected by your spouse working. However, if your spouse's gross weekly earnings change while you are on the RSS, you should inform your supervisor immediately as this may affect your RSS weekly payment rate.

 

Q.14. Can my spouse participate on the RSS in my place?

Should you be deemed eligible under the criteria as outlined in Q.5 but you yourself do not wish to participate on the RSS, your dependent spouse can take the available place. Alternatively, should your spouse be in receipt of one of the qualifying Social Welfare payments, but the Herd/Flock/Pig Herd/Equine Number is in your name, your spouse can use your number for the purposes of qualifying for the Scheme.

If you meet the underlying eligibility criteria for a self employed farmer or fisherperson, and are in receipt of the Non-Contributory State Pension, which includes an Increase for Qualified Adult Allowance, your spouse if under 66 years of age is eligible to participate on the RSS.

Should any of these situations apply to you, it should be noted on your application form and discussed with your local Implementing Body.

Q.15. If I become entitled to the Widow(er)'s Pension (Contributory or Non-Contributory), One-Parent Family Payment or the Disability Allowance while participating on the Scheme, what should I do?

You should claim the Social Welfare payment and immediately inform your Supervisor/Implementing Body of the change in your circumstance. You will then be entitled to receive two payments each week - your Social Welfare payment and a top-up payment from the RSS. The total combined value of these two payments will be equal to the maximum payable if you were still in receipt of one payment from the RSS.

Q.16. How do I apply, or who do I contact for more information on the RSS?

As this Scheme is administered on a local level, you should in all instances contact your local Implementing Body for any further information, or for an application form.

Please see attached contact details for all Implementing Bodies.

Last modified:13/12/2012
 

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