Donegal farmers and fishermen to benefit from boost to Rural Social Scheme

Scheme allows farmers and fishermen to make off-farm income

Staff Reporter


Staff Reporter


Donegal farmers and fishermen to benefit from  boost to Rural Social Scheme

Minister says he's a big fan of the Rural Social Scheme.

Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar has announced details of where the 500 extra places on the Rural Social Scheme for farmers and fishermen will be allocated.

81 extra places have been allocated for Donegal, currently the figure here is 227, rising now to 308.

The increase across the country brings the total number from 2,600 to 3,100. It’s the first increase since 2006 when the numbers increased by 100 from 2,500 to 2,600.

“I am a big fan of the Rural Social Scheme. It provides an opportunity to farmers and fishermen to make off-farm income in areas where there are few opportunities to do so, brings money into rural and coastal communities and gets valuable work done on the ground,” Minister Varadkar said.

The Scheme is especially important in the north-west, west and south of Ireland, where participants work on the following type of projects:


·         Looking after waymarked ways, agreed walks and bog roads;

·         Caretaking at community and sporting facilities;

·         Energy conservation work for the elderly and the less well off;

·         Village and countryside enhancement projects;

·         Social care and care of the elderly such as meals on wheels;

·         Community care for pre-school and after-school groups;

·         Environmental maintenance work such as Tidy Towns projects;

·         Helping non-profit cultural and heritage centres.


The extra places will strengthen the Rural Social Scheme by supporting more farming and fishing families on low incomes. The Scheme is delivered through 35 Implementing Bodies or Local Development Companies, and Údarás na Gaeltachta.  


Participants must be actively farming or fishing with an underlying entitlement to a qualifying Department of Social Protection payment, such as Farm Assist, in order to be eligible. Most participants receive a weekly payment of €188 a week (equal to  the maximum personal rate on Farm Assist) (rising to €193 from Mid-March), and an additional €22.50 top-up per week under the Rural Social Scheme.


Participation is voluntary and is dependent on the availability of vacancies in the relevant locality. As this scheme is administered on a local level by Implementing Bodies on behalf of the Department, a person should, in all instances, contact their local Development Company for any further information, or for an application form.