“Nothing short of a sea change in attitude” to Farm Assist is needed within the Department of Social Protection as thousands of farmers are losing out through red tape or getting payments lower than they are entitled to.
This is the view of Minister for the OPW and flood relief and Galway East Independent Alliance TD, Seán Canney, who called on the Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar to make changes to the Farm Assist scheme, during Minister Varadkar’s recent visit to Tuam.
Minister Canney told his Government colleague that changes were necessary. He said “the current system is seriously flawed” as it does not take costs incurred by farmers “fully into account”. As a result he says, many farmers who should be on the maximum rate, instead receive a low rate of payment. He also called for broadband costs “to be fully allowable” as the Department of Agriculture is seeking to have more grant applications done online. He also called for increases in the allowance for non-tractor travel costs.
The Programme for Government committed to a review of the Farm Assist scheme and that review is currently underway.