Fine Gael TD for Limerick, Tom Neville has praised the benefits of the Rural Social Scheme, particularly in rural Limerick.
Deputy Neville raised the expansion of the scheme with the Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar in the Dáil.
“Given the benefits of the scheme, both to those taking part and to the local community, I would strongly encourage the expansion of the scheme in rural Limerick,” he said.
The scheme is similar to the Community Employment (CE) and JobBridge scheme in which, a person may qualify for extra earnings if they are receiving farm assist or other social welfare payments.
It is aimed at providing increased payments to low-income earners in the farming and fishing industries and extends to your dependent spouse, civil partner or cohabitant if they wish to take the available place.
“In Limerick, there are 73 participants in the scheme and 163 on farm assist who could become eligible for the scheme,” said Mr Neville.
Participants in the scheme work 19.5 hours per week which are flexible with their schedules and earn a weekly top up of €22.50 if you have been receiving a social welfare payment of €188 or less.
Two development companies in Limerick participate in the Rural Social Scheme on behalf of the Department of Social Protection; West Limerick Resources and Ballyhoura Development.
Mr Neville commented that both Limerick-based companies have requested an expansion of their schemes.
“There has been a lot of good work done on this, particularly in my own parish of Kilfinny and I myself have experienced a similar scheme in Cappagh, Co. Limerick,” he said.
The participants of the scheme provide services that benefit rural communities including energy conservation projects, community enhancement projects, extra-curricular activities and care for elderly.
“As the economy continues to recover, Fine Gael is determined to ensure that the benefits of this recovery are felt in every community across Ireland and I am determined to ensure they’re felt across County Limerick,” added Mr Neville.