Welcome Expansion of Carlow Rural Social Scheme

On Friday 23rd March 2018, Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty T.D. announced details of extra places on the Carlow Rural Social Scheme (RSS), bringing the total to 25 places.  The new places will provide support for valuable community-based work in Carlow, thereby helping to deliver on a Programme for Government commitment to rural Ireland.

Announcing the increase, Minister Doherty said “Since the RSS was launched in 2004, it has delivered a range of positive benefits for both participants and their local communities. The RSS has become a key aspect of community action in many rural areas. Significantly, it also supports participants to remain involved in farming or fishing in their local areas.”

The RSS is a key initiative under the Community Development Strategy for Carlow County Development Partnership. The aim of the RSS is to provide income support to farmers and fisher persons who are in receipt of specific Social Welfare payments and also to provide valuable services to rural communities. The Rural Social Scheme contributes approximately €300,000 p/a to the rural economy in Carlow, a total of approximately €3.6 million since its launch in 2004.

The Rural Social Scheme for Carlow is managed by Carlow County Development Partnership CLG since inception.  CEO of Carlow County Development Partnership, Mary Walsh, welcomed the announcement and stated “We are delighted to secure an additional 3 places on the Carlow Rural Social Scheme, bringing the total places to 25. The scheme is so important to farm families throughout Carlow as it provides a vital supplementary income while enabling farming itself to continue. Over the past number of years, we have noticed that farmers are transferring their entitlement to participate on the Rural Social Scheme to other family members and we expect this trend to continue”.


The work carried out under the Carlow RSS helps to support countless sports clubs, community services and rural facilities throughout Carlow. Participants work for 19.5 hours a week on a local rural or community project in return for supplementary income for their farm household. Participants work locally on projects such as caretaking at community and sporting facilities; village and countryside enhancement projects; social care and care of the elderly; environmental maintenance work such as Tidy Towns projects and supporting non-profit and heritage centres.

The Cairdeas Centre in Tullow is one such community project.  Speaking about the Rural Social Scheme, Eileen Doyle of Cairdeas said that “Without this particular scheme we couldn’t provide such a wide range of horticultural opportunities to our service users. I see it firsthand every week, our Rural Social Scheme worker is busy in the Cairdeas garden maintaining our trees and flowers with our service users and they really love this outdoor work.  The advantage of the Rural Social Scheme for us is that the workers, coming from farm families, are very much in tune with nature and as such know exactly what to do and when to do it.”

Rural Social Scheme participant based in the Cairdeas Centre, James Murphy enthused “The Rural Social Scheme is a great scheme for farmers, it’s a big help to have a regular income.  I found the support and help I got from Niamh a big help and she made the process as straightforward as possible for me to come onto the scheme.  I really enjoy the work I do in Cairdeas and it is very rewarding to see the difference I make in the centre.  I would recommend the Rural Social Scheme to anyone who might be interested.”

Farm families in receipt of social welfare payments are encouraged to contact Niamh Murphy on 059 9720733 or nmurphy@carlowdeveloplment.ie to find out more about the Rural Social Scheme.