RURAL SOCIAL SCHEME - PARTICIPANTS

RSS Background

The aims of the Rural Social Scheme were to address certain issues in rural Ireland:

While responsibility for the operation of the RSS lies with the Department of Social Protection, it is managed at a local level, on their behalf, by the Local Development Companies.

There are a total of 2,600 placements on the Rural Social Scheme throughout the country. Places on the scheme are allocated in ratio to the number of farmers in receipt of Farm Assist per region. Currently the allocation for County Leitrim is 100 places. This process is subject to ongoing review.

Leitrim Development Company (Supporting Rural Social Scheme Projects)

Leitrim was the pilot for the Rural Social Scheme upon its inception in 2004. The Scheme has continued to grow over the past year and delivers a much needed community service throughout the County. This is demonstratedby the new and existing community groups that submitted worthwhile projects for 2014. At present Leitrim Development Company has a quota of 100 participants on the scheme with a support team of 5 supervisors and 1 Co-ordinator. Work is ongoing throughout County Leitrim and provides community-based work on a part-time basis (19.5 hours per week). Participants work on a variety of projects across all measures of work. The variety of work requested by the local community groups has expanded this year. Various new projects were undertaken with the co-operation of the communities and despite very tight budgets communities have come up trumps with the provision of materials to complete these projects.

The service and benefits that the Rural Social Scheme brings to local rural communities is very well appreciated by all concerned and it is vital that the scheme continues into the future and can then be recognised as one of the mainstays of rural sustainability.

Who is eligible to participate on the Rural Social Scheme

To be eligible to participate, an individual must be in receipt of an active herd number and be in receipt of one of the following long-term Social Welfare payments:

The applicant must provide proof that the qualifying herd number is active by providing a copy of his/her Single Farm Payment (SFP) for the current year and a copy of the official proof of postage to the Department for the current application.

Participation on the Rural Social Scheme

The scheme in Leitrim appoints local farmers in 5 scheme areas which stretch the length and breadth of the county. Each scheme has a dedicated Supervisor who works with local communities and participants to carry out a broad range of work plans which fall into the following broad range of categories. These are as follows:

Supervisor Area Covered
Karen Guihen Labour Market Scheme Co-ordinator
James Brogan Mid-South Leitrim
Margaret Sharkey North Leitrim
Seamus Shanley Mid Leitrim
Gerry McGourty South Leitrim I
Brendan Gilhooly South Leitrim II
Participants on the RSS work 19.5 hours per week and the scheme is administered in a farmer/fisherperson friendly manner. Participants can work their hours in a flexible way e.g. week on week off, subject to the requirements of the project they are working on and the Supervisory arrangements.

In 2015 the maximum Rural Social Scheme (RSS) weekly payment is as follows:

Participant Category Total Weekly Payment*
Participant without Adult Dependent €208
Participant with Adult Dependent €332.80 maximum**
Each Child Dependent (full rate) €29.80
Each Child Dependent (half rate) €14.90
* Please note that these figures may be subject to change following Budget 2016

**The amount of the increase for the adult dependent is assessed by the Department of Social Protection. This means that the rate for a participant with an adult dependent may be reduced if the adult dependent has income, for example, from part-time employment.

Participants can work outside the scheme; however, it is the participant’s responsibility to ensure any earning outside of their primary income (i.e. farming/fishing) remains within the income threshold that applies to their underlying Social Welfare payment. Earnings in excess of the income limit will affect a Participants eligibility to qualify for the Rural Social Scheme.

If your current social welfare payment includes a reduced rate for an adult dependant, then you will be paid that equivalent on RSS. You are not entitled an RSS payment for your adult dependant (spouse/partner) if he or she earns over €310 per week.

Participants in receipt of Disability Allowance, One-Parent Family Payment, Widow's/Widower's (Contributory) Pension and Widow's/Widower's (Non-Contributory) Pension will continue to get their payment from the Department of Social Protection, along with a top-up payment from the RSS to bring their overall payment in line with the rates listed above for their family circumstances.

Participation in the RSS is not intended to be on a permanent basis. The operation of the RSS will always be reviewed after each twelve-month term. Participants are included on the RSS for an initial period of twelve months. Following each term, participants must re-apply to participate in the RSS and are considered for participation for a further term or for inclusion on any waiting list that may be in operation, as appropriate. All appointments depend on the availability of vacancies and funding.

PAYE & PRSI

RSS income will be assessable under PAYE. It is envisaged that many participants however, shall have little or no actual tax liability. The amount of tax payable will depend on individual circumstances and allowances. You will pay contributions towards Class A1 rate PRSI on all income above the current PRSI free allowance.

Medical Card & Secondary Benefits

As a participant, you will be entitled to retain certain secondary benefits, such as your medical card, fuel allowance etc. You should check with your local Social Welfare Office or Health Board, as appropriate, for further clarification.

Participant Retirement

RSS participants and supervisors may work on the RSS until the day before their 66th birthday. The Old-Age Pension (both Contributory and Non-Contributory) is payable with effect from the day on which a person reaches 66 years. RSS participants on the Scheme on the basis of their own entitlement to a qualifying Social Welfare payment. Receipt of a State pension will eliminate a person's eligibility for any of the underlying Social Welfare payments required to qualify for the Rural Social Scheme. Receipt of a State pension eliminates a participant's entitlement to claim an increase for Qualified Adult. Allowance in respect of the person claiming the pension payment.

An exception to this situation occurs when a RSS participant qualifies for a Retirement Pension. In these circumstances, the participant must retire on the day before their 65th Birthday. This is the case as payment of this pension is effective from the day a person reaches 65 years and is conditional on the recipient being retired from insurable employment.

However, an RSS participant who does qualify for a Retirement Pension may elect to forego their entitlement to this payment in favour of remaining on the RSS until they reach 66 years. In such cases, they are permitted to remain on the RSS, but on the strict understanding that they inform their local Social Welfare Office that they do not intend to take up their entitlement to their Retirement Pension payment. Written confirmation of this should be obtained from the Department of Social Protection by the RSS participant and submitted to the Implementing Body.

For further information on the Rural Social Scheme in your area please contact:

Supervisor Area Covered Contact Number
James Brogan Mid-South Leitrim 086-8521785
Margaret Sharkey North Leitrim 086-8521791
Seamus Shanley Mid Leitrim 086-8521798
Gerry McGourty South Leitrim I 086-0490225
Brendan Gilhooly South Leitrim II 086-7716896

or contact the co-ordinator as below:

Karen Guihen – Labour Market Scheme Scheme Co-ordinator Tel: 071 9641770

Leitrim Development Company,

Church Street, or

Drumshanbo, Co Leitrim Email: rss@ldco.ie