Rural Social Scheme

Rural Social Scheme (RSS) 

Programme Description

The aims of the Rural Social Scheme (RSS) are to provide income support for farmers and fishermen who are currently in receipt of long term Social Welfare payments including Farm Assist, and to provide certain services of benefit to rural communities.

This scheme allows low-income farmers and fishermen who are unable to earn an adequate living from their farm holding/fishing, to earn a supplementary income.

The intention of the Scheme is that the projects carried out are beneficial to the local community and that participants have the opportunity to improve existing or develop new skills.

Who is it suitable for?

Farmers and fishermen who are currently in receipt of long term Social Welfare payments including Farm Assist.

What is the programme content?

Rural Social Scheme in Offaly

The scheme is operating at its full potential in Offaly with over 60 participants placed in various locations across the county.

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 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.
  • Community administration or clerical work
  • Any other appropriate community based project identified during the course of the scheme

Programme Times?

RSS has a 12 month placement contract.



  • Must provide proof that actively farming:
    • Copy of application for the EU Single Payment Scheme (including valid herd Number)


Child / Sibling of Farmer (Herd Number Owner)

  • Must certify resident and / or working on farm
  • Getting on of the qualifying payments
  • Eligible to participate on scheme on basis of parent / sibling herd number


Spouse / Civil Partner / Cohabitant of Farmer (Herd Number Owner)

  • If the eligible farmer does not wish to participate in scheme then

Spouse, civil partner or cohabitant:

can take the available place

  • Alternatively if the above group (spouse /civil partner etc)

is getting one of the qualifying social welfare payments they can use the Herd Number to qualify for the scheme

If the spouse / civil partner / cohabitant is under 66 and the farmer is getting a State Pension (Non-Contributory) which includes an Increase for Qualified Adult for him /her

Please note that each herd number may only be used once.

When does the next programme commence?

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) Local office will select the persons (at random) who meet the criteria for referral to OLDC for inclusion on a panel from which recruitment will be made. A new intake on 01 April each year.

  •  Placements are for a maximum of 52 weeks. 

What days will the programme take place?

Monday - Saturday. Participants may be able to work their hours in a flexible way

How will the programme be delivered?

Work Placement with various sponsor groups

Working Hours: This is 19.5 hours per week.  Participants may be able to work their hours in a flexible way. 

RSS payment while participating: The rates of payment for new participants depend on the qualifying DEASP payment.  The minimum weekly payment effective from March 2019 is €225.50.

RSS Secondary Benefits: You may keep any secondary benefits you had before you took up the scheme such as fuel allowance & medical card, subject to income levels. 

What support to you offer to participants?

All supports within OLDC available to RSS participants

Is the programme certified?


Is there a fee to take part?


Community & Voluntary Groups

Does your organisation have projects which require a labour input? The Rural Social Scheme (or Tús Scheme) may be able to help. An application form for community groups to avail of the scheme can be downloaded (see below).

Programme Contact:

If you are a member of a community group or a farmer interested in the scheme please contact us:

George Digan - Phone 087 9948 132  Email:

Catherine Dunne - Phone: 087 133 6515 

John Moran - Phone:087 9013 759

Offaly Local Development Company
Millennium House,
Main St,
Co. Offaly

This is a  Department of  Social Protection service, fully funded by the Department, and delivered under contract in Offaly by OLDC for and on behalf of the Department.