I recently spoke at the Joint Committee on Social Protection & Community and called for a review of the Rural Social Scheme.

The eligibility criteria and the income threshold for participants need to be updated and the six-year rule needs to be abolished.

Supervisors on the scheme have had no pay increase in the last 14 years. This is untenable and needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

If the Government are serious about their policy of “Our Rural Future” the Rural Social Scheme (RSS) can be a catalyst for realising their ambition.

The benefits for the participants on the Scheme and the benefits to the local community are profound. Any cost benefit analysis would demonstrate a massive return on the investment with the participant and communities benefiting.

“I have seen first-hand the benefits the Rural Social Scheme can bring and I am determined that the scheme remains fit for purpose and is delivered in an efficient and meaningful way”.