The Rural Social Scheme' is "unattractive to many farmers who have dependents" and changes to its means test need to be carried out urgently.
This is the view of Fianna Fáil Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív, who is calling on the Minister for Social Protection, Community, and Rural Development, Heather Humphreys, to change the Rural Social Scheme's means test and re-introduce the scheme's incentivisation measure for small farmers.
At present, particularly for participants on the scheme, who have either dependent adults or dependent children, the extra payment over and above the basic welfare payment on Farm Assist is approximately €23 per week, for 19 and half hour’s work. This represents a payment in effect of €1 per hour for those who partake in the scheme.
Original scheme had 'huge social benefit'
According to Dep Ó Cuív, this has made the scheme "unattractive to many farmers who have dependents" and made it difficult for some schemes to get participants.
In the original scheme, anyone who took part got the full relevant payment with no farming means assessed against them. "This gave a fair return in terms of half a weeks’ work," said the Cornamona based TD, "and made the scheme very attractive to small farmers. It also had a huge social benefit by making small farms viable by ensuring people had an adequate income."
Dep Ó Cuív, along with former Minister for Agriculture, Brendan Smith, will meet Minister Humphreys to discuss the issue. "Coming from a farming background Minister Humphreys has a good understanding of small farmers and their requirements," said Dep Ó Cuív. "I look forward to meeting with her and to getting a positive outcome."