‘The Government strongly supports the Rural Social Scheme’

The Government strongly supports the work being carried out through the Rural Social Scheme (RSS), according to the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty.

She outlined in response to a recent parliamentary question that the positive benefits derived from work schemes like the RSS are quite evident.

Last week, the minister announced the allocation of 250 new RSS places, bringing the total number of places available up to 3,350.

Also Read: Allocation of 250 new Rural Social Scheme places revealed

Commenting on the matter, Minister Doherty said: “In recognition of the crucial work undertaken in rural communities under the scheme, and as part of the social welfare budget package for 2018, I announced an additional 250 places to be rolled out this year – together with an increase in the weekly rate of payment for participants from week beginning March 26, 2018.

Taking into account the 500 additional places already allocated as part of the social welfare budget 2017, this brings the total number of RSS places to 3,350, nearly 30% of an increase in the last two years.

“In the context of administrative costs for 2018, it should be noted that all 35 Implementing Bodies (IBs) will receive increased funding in 2018, compared to 2017, due to the provision of increased RSS places,” she said.

The minister explained that her department “endeavours to monitor its budgets and relative spending closely and effectively to ensure that funding provided is realistic and fair for all concerned”.

Concluding, she said: “This also applies to administrative costs borne by the department. A budget of €51.04 million is provided for RSS in 2018. The provisional out-turn in 2017 on RSS was €44.4 million.

“I would like to reiterate that the Government strongly supports the work being done through the RSS and the vital role such schemes are playing in local communities, including supporting social services, across the entire country.”