Rural Social Scheme (RSS)

The aims of the RSS are to provide income support for farmers and fishermen and to provide certain services of benefit to rural communities. The RSS allows low-income farmers and fishermen who are actively farming or fishing, to earn a supplementary income.

Benefits of the RSS to rural communities
  • The RSS provides additional resources to maintain and improve local amenities and facilities in rural communities
  • Communities benefit from the skills and talents of local farmers and fisher-persons
  • Participants experience opportunities to improve existing, or develop new skills, and perform valuable work in the community
Categories of work
  • Maintaining and enhancing way-marked ways, agreed walks and bog roads
  • Energy conservation work for the elderly and the less well off
  • Village and countryside enhancement projects
  • Social care and care of the elderly, community care for both pre-school and after-school groups
  • Environmental maintenance work – maintenance and caretaking of community and sporting facilities
  • Projects relating to not for profit cultural and heritage centres
  • Community Administration/Clerical duties
  • Any other appropriate community project identified during the course of the Scheme

Participants work 19.5 hours per week and these hours will be based on a farmer/fisherperson-friendly schedule. Annual Leave entitlement will be 10.5 days per year.

To be eligible to participate on the RSS you must be in receipt of Farm/Fish Assist or one of the qualifying Social Welfare payments outlined below 
meet the criteria as set out below for either a Farmer or a Fisherperson.
Criteria for a Self-Employed Farmer

To qualify as a farmer, you must be farming a minimum of one hectare.  You’ll also need to prove that you are actively farming.  To do this, provide the following:

  • A copy of your Basic Payment Application
  • Proof of Application submission to the Department of Agriculture
Criteria for a Self Employed Fisherman
Any of the following categories can be considered eligible to participate on the RSS:

  • Self employed on a fishing boat, which has been entered in the Register of Fishing Boats.
  • Self employed whose boat has been issued with a Pot Fishing Licence.
  • Self employed with a Commercial Salmon Fishing Licence from one of the seven Regional Fisheries Boards.
  • Self employed with a Commercial Eel Fishing Licence from one of the seven Regional Fisheries Boards.
  • Self employed with a dredging licence for shellfish from one of the seven Regional Fisheries Boards.
  • Holders of an Aquaculture licence issued by the Department of Communication, Energy and Natural Resources.
  • Permit holders for shell fishing issued by a registered Cooperative.

In additional to fulfilling the above criteria, the Participant must be in receipt of one of the qualifying payment(s) from the Department of Social Protection.

Qualifying Social Welfare payments:
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • One-Parent Family Payment
  • Widow(er)’s Pension – (Contributory or Non-Contributory)
  • Disability Allowance
  • Adult Dependants of Non-Contributory Old Age Pensioners who themselves are under 66.
Eligibility of children/siblings of a Herd/Flock/Pig Herd/Equine Number Owner:
If you are a child/sibling of a herd/flock/pig herd/equine number owner and you can certify that you are resident and/or working on the farm AND are in receipt of one of the qualifying Social Welfare payments, as outlined, you may be eligible to participate on the RSS on the basis of your parent’s/sibling’s herd/flock/pig herd/equine number. 
Please note; there is only one RSS place per Herd/Flock/Pig Herd/Equine Number.
Can my spouse participate on the RSS in my place?
Should you be deemed eligible under the criteria as outlined above but you yourself do not wish to participate on the RSS, your dependent spouse can take the available place. Alternatively, should your spouse be in receipt of one of the qualifying Social Welfare payments, but the Herd/Flock/Pig Herd/Equine Number is in your name, your spouse can use your number for the purposes of qualifying for the Scheme.
If you meet the underlying eligibility criteria, and are in receipt of the Non-Contributory State Pension, which includes an Increase for Qualified Adult Allowance, your spouse if under 66 years of age is eligible to participate on the RSS.

For further information, you can contact your local SKDP Office:


More detailed information on eligibility and rates of pay is available on the Department of Social Protection website: