Fianna Fáil TD for Galway East Anne Rabbitte says the new Social Protection Minister must ensure that more places are made available on the Rural Social Scheme for farm families across the country. Deputy Rabbitte was speaking during a Dáil debate on Agriculture earlier today.
The Portumna based Deputy explained, “The Rural Social Scheme is a hugely important programme, which sustains farm families across the country, not least here in Galway. There are more than 150 people on the waiting list for a place on the scheme in my own constituency such is the popularity of the programme. The majority of these farmers are already on Farm Assist or Job Seekers Allowance and would therefore qualify for the RSS, but as a result of long delays and a shortage of places, they are unable to get on the scheme.
“The RSS provides a good return for the taxpayer, as it ensures that local amenities in towns and villages are maintained and upgraded at a reasonable cost, which in turn supports farm families. I would like to see more places, supervisors and assistant supervisors allocated to East Galway. The demand is there and the scheme has a proven success record. This would have a hugely positive impact on the area – not only would it increase income levels for farming families, it would see more people coming off the Live Register and paying PRSI and it would have untold social and positive mental health implications for those who secure the extra places.
“The RSS is a community scheme, which protects the livelihoods of local farmers, while ensuring a good return for the taxpayer. There is no reason why it should not be extended. Fianna Fáil pledged to increase the number of places on the scheme to 5,000 and we will be continuing to pursue this proposal”.