Rural Social Scheme (RSS)

The Rural Social Scheme has gained considerable recognition locally supporting over 57 low income farm families in Duhallow

Since its launch in 2004 the Rural Social Scheme has gained considerable recognition locally supporting over 57 low income farm families in Duhallow. The scheme has grown in strength over the intervening years and is now firmly embedded in the social fabric of the region providing vital support to Community Groups, Clubs and Associations.

The aim of the scheme is to provide income supplement for low income farmers in return for part-time work in the community. While taking part in this scheme participants experience new opportunities to use and develop their skills while being involved in valuable community work.

To qualify for the RSS a person needs to be in receipt of a means tested social welfare payment, have a herd number and have a copy of their single farm payment application. For more information on completing a single farm application form click here.

What type of work is carried out by participants on the scheme?

The type of work carried out by RSS participants includes:

  • Maintaining and enhancing various walking routes (that is, waymarked ways, agreed walks) and bog roads.
  • Energy conservation work for older people and those at risk of poverty.
  • Village and countryside enhancement projects.
  • Social care and care of older people, community care for both pre-school and after-school groups.
  • Environmental maintenance work – maintenance and care-taking of community and sporting facilities.
  • Projects relating to not-for-profit cultural and heritage centres.
  • Sustainable Energy Ireland’s Warmer Homes Scheme and other energy conservation schemes.
  • Work on IRD Duhallow Community Care Committee.

How many hours’ work is involved and how long does the scheme last?

The scheme provides participants with part-time work for a specified period. That is, 19.5 hours per week for an initial 12-month period. These hours are based on a farmer-friendly schedule. This is to ensure participation in the scheme does not affect your farming. At the end of each 12-month period on the scheme you may re-apply to participate again.

Whether or not your application is successful is at the discretion of the local management. While it is not intended that anyone would remain on the scheme permanently, there is no definite time limit for participation.

If you are eligible for the scheme but don’t wish to participate, your dependent spouse may take the available place. However, this is only provided neither of you are participating in any other similar scheme (for example, the Community Employment Scheme). Spousal swaps are allowed. If an eligible person does not wish to participate on the RSS, his/her dependent spouse/civil partner/cohabitant can apply in their place. In these instances, the person originally qualified must give up his/her qualifying DSP payment if his/her spouse/civil partner/cohabitant is accepted on the RSS. It is not possible for more than one individual to qualify for the RSS using the same Herd Number.

Am I eligible to participate in the scheme?

The Rural Social Scheme is aimed at low-income farmers unable to earn an adequate living to earn a supplementary income. Eligibility is confined to those in receipt of certain qualifying payments and holding a Herd Number from the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine. To be eligible to participate an individual must be in receipt of Farm Assist or one of the qualifying Social Welfare payments and meet the criteria for either a self-employed farmer or a fisherman

Qualifying Social Welfare payments:


  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Jobseeker’s Benefit,if previously on a Community Employment (CE) Scheme or on RSS AND their term on that Scheme ceased within the last 12 months.
  • One-Parent Family Payment
  • Widow(er)’s Pension (Contributory or Non-Contributory)
  • Disability Allowance
  • Adult Dependants of Non-Contributory Old Age Pensioners who themselves are under 66.

Illness Benefit is not a qualifying Social Welfare payment for the RSS.

Criteria for a Self-Employed Farmer

In order to be deemed eligible to participate on the scheme, an individual must provide proof to their IB that they are actively farming, by providing a copy of their application for the EU Single Payment Scheme for the current year, which includes a valid herd number together with a copy of the associated receipt (official proof of postage).

How much will I be paid on the scheme?

Weekly payment rates for the Rural Social Scheme (RSS) changed from 17 September 2012. The rates of payment for new participants on the RSS depend on your qualifying Department of Social Protection (DSP) payment. In most cases your RSS rate of payment will be equivalent to your existing payment plus a €20 top-up.

So, if the actual social welfare payment (including dependants) you were getting was €188 a week or less, then you will get the minimum weekly rate of €208 (that is €188 plus €20). If your actual weekly social welfare payment (including dependants) was €188.01 or more, then you will get the equivalent rate plus €20 (there are some exceptions to this).

If you were getting an age-related reduced rate of payment your payment is increased to the minimum weekly rate of €208.

Participant Category Total Weekly Payment
Jobseeker’s Allowance or Benefit, Farm Assist Equal to your current rate of payment plus €20 top-up. Minimum weekly payment of €208.
One-Parent Family Payment Equal to your current rate of payment plus €20 top-up. Minimum weekly payment of €208.
Disability Allowance Equal to your current rate of payment plus €20 top-up. Minimum weekly payment of €208.
Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Contributory Pension You continue to receive your pension with a top-up of €20.
Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Non-Contributory Pension You continue to receive your pension with a top-up of €20 (The minimum combined payment is €208).
Qualified Adult on a State Pension (Non-Contributory) Your spouse will continue to receive the Increase for a Qualified Adult (IQA). Your rate on the RSS will be the difference between your IQA payment and €208.

For further information on the Rural Social Scheme or to get an application form posted out to you, please contact Sheila O’Keeffe on (029) 60633.

Any community groups wishing to have indoor or outdoor work completed by RSS participants, should submit a written request to the Manager of IRD Duhallow.
Communities must cover materials and other costs of work undertaken.

IRD Duhallow’s Community Care Initiative

IRD Duhallow’s Community Care Committee aim to support older and more vulnerable adults to maintain successful independent living, reduce the level of admissions to hospital/residential care and increase the social reconnection of these people in their own communities. Each community care case is unique and there is rarely a single solution. Given the complexity of issues, a multi-disciplinary approach across community, health, social care, housing and the voluntary sector is necessary. The Community Care Committee take a holistic approach to the person’s needs that captures physical, psychosocial and environmental issues e.g. living conditions. Many of the vulnerable older adults referred for assistance are living alone and disconnected with little or no contact from family members, have poor social networks and often refuse the help of neighbours and concerned members of the community due to their sense of pride. In 2018 funding was approved from Kerry County Council through the Community Enhancement Programme funded through the Department of Rural and Community Development to carry out vital Community Care Work in the East Kerry region. This funding This has allowed us to support the ambition of older and vulnerable people to remain living in their homes whilst encouraging and facilitating connections with their communities. In addition, it has allowed to support the residents of Teach an Chuairum, Rathmore.



More Useful links:
Rural Social Scheme Welfare Site
Pobal Publications