Deputy Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran has expressed delight at news that the constituency is to receive additional funding under the Rural Social Scheme, details of which were announced earlier this week.
A total of 40 places have been allocated for Westmeath under the scheme, seven up on the previous year when there were 33 participants in the county.
“This is a matter that I have pressed the Social Protection Minister, Leo Varadkar, on for some time and I am delighted that he has seen the great contribution and value that this scheme brings to rural constituencies,” said Deputy Moran.
The work carried out under the scheme helps to support sports clubs, community services, and rural facilities. It is also an important source of extra income to farmers and fishermen who may be working on a part-time basis, or find it difficult to maintain a decent income.
Participants provide 19.5 hours a week on a local rural or community project, in return for a top-up of their social welfare payments.
Some of the projects include looking after waymarked ways and bog roads; caretaking at community and sporting facilities; 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 pre-school and after-school groups; environmental maintenance work such as Tidy Towns projects; and helping non-profit cultural and heritage centres.
The 500 additional places nationwide brings the total number from 2,600 to 3,100. This is the first increase in places since 2006.