RSS Rural Social Scheme (RSS)

RSS was first introduced in 2003. The aims of the RSS are to provide income and support for farmers and fisherpersons who are currently in receipt of Social Welfare payments, and to provide certain services of benefit to rural communities. The RSS allows low-income farmers and fisherpersons who are unable to earn an adequate living from their farm holding/fishing, to earn a supplementary income.

While responsibility for the operation of the RSS rests with Department of Social Protection, it is managed in Westmeath by WCD.

Number of places and Locations

2,600 places nationwide,

33 in County Westmeath

Who is eligible?

Participants on Farm Assist

or who have a herd number and be in receipt of one of the following long-term Social Welfare payments

Jobseekers Allowance

Jobseekers Benefit, if previously on CE

Disability Allowance

Terms of the RSS

Participants will work 19.5 hours per week and the scheme will be administered in a farmer-friendly manner. Participants can work their hours in a flexible way e.g., week on/week off, but this flexibility will at all times be subject to the requirements of the project they are working on.

What work will be undertaken?

All of the work undertaken while participating on the RSS will be beneficial to the local community. The types of projects carried out under RSS include:

  • Maintaining and enhancing waymarked 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

For further information on RSS contact Tony McCormack, tmccormack@westcd.ie or 044 93 48571.

Farm Family/Smallholders Initiative

The purpose of the farm family/smallholders initiative is to provide advice and support for low income smallholders in order to help them increase their incomes and improve their personal circumstances.

This will be achieved through:

  • One to one advice
  • Group training

What we do

  • Improve on-farm efficiency
  • Protect the single farm payment and avail of other schemes and incentives
  • Secure off-farm employment to supplement family income
  • Develop new business ideas
  • Maximise income from supports such as social welfare
  • Improve living conditions and quality of life
  • Working with communities and agencies to promote equality of access and the tailoring of services to respond to clients needs.

For more information about the initiative in County Westmeath, contact RSS Supervisors:

- Tony McCormack 044 93 48571

- Majella Boyhan, 087 - 2127239 / 044 93 48571

The Office @ Westmeath Community Development at 044 93 48571. 

pdfClick here for RSS Brochure.

Rural Social Scheme seeks farmer participants for County Westmeath

Rss advert Jpeg

The recent budget announcement that the number of places on the Rural Social Scheme (RSS) is increasing is good news for both farmers that will qualify for the scheme and rural communities that can avail of a worker. As a result of this announcement Westmeath Community Development (WCD) are looking for workers to participate on the scheme. WCD’s Rural Social Scheme is celebrating its twelfth year helping communities throughout the county. In operation since 2004, the scheme employs 33 people in 20 areas, providing over 650 hours of work weekly to help enhance rural communities and is now an established and essential resource for community groups in the county. The Rural Social Scheme was set up by the Department of Social Protection, with the aim of providing income support for farmers who are in receipt of long-term social welfare payments, who in turn carry out services that benefit rural communities. In Co Westmeath, the Rural Social Scheme is one of a number of schemes administered by Westmeath Community Development.

WCD are currently looking for farmers or their spouses who wish to participate on the scheme to contact them at the number listed below to discuss the benefits of participating on the scheme. The scheme offers farmers a chance to increase their income as well as an opportunity to get excellent work experience. Minimum rate on the Rural Social Scheme is €208/week.

The type of work carried out by RSS participants includes;

  • Maintaining and enhancing walking routes and bog roads.
  • Village and countryside enhancement projects as part of the Tidy Towns.
  • Energy conservation work for older people and those at risk of poverty.
  • Social care and care of older people, including Community Childcare facilities.
  • Environmental maintenance work - maintenance and care-taking of community and sporting facilities such as Streete Parish Park, Castledaly Community Centre, Moate GAA club and Athlone GAA club.
  • Projects relating to not-for-profit cultural and heritage centres.

According to the coordinator of the scheme, Tony McCormack “the Rural Social Scheme has grown and developed over the years in Westmeath, and is meeting two key needs in rural communities, an outlet and opportunity for farmers and farm families and an essential resource and support in rural areas to maintain and enhance services in local communities”.

For further information on the Rural Social Scheme, go to www.westcd.ie, or contact Tony Mc Cormack at Westmeath Community Development, 044-9348571 or email tmccormack@westcd.ie


Rural Social Scheme Information Booklet

wcdlThe Rural Social Scheme provides a supplementary income for low income farmers and fishermen & women who are unable to earn an adequate living. To qualify for the RSS you must be getting a social welfare payment. In return, people participating in the RSS provide services that benefit rural communities.

View the brochure for Rural Social Scheme by pdfclicking here.

If you are interested in participating on the Rural social scheme or you are a local community group looking for a participant Please contact one of the RSS supervisors:-

  • Tony McCormack 044-9348571
  • Majella Boyhan 087-2127239



Rural Business Training Tender

Westmeath Community Development Limited (WCD) has a strong track record in working with rural businesses in the last 15 years. Many have received training mentoring and capital grant aid. Recently, many of these businesses are experiencing difficulty in the areas of increasing costs, marketing and sales. In order for these businesses to improve and update their skills, WCD wishes to contract suitably qualified individual(s) to provide training and mentoring to businesses that are specialising in each of the following 3 areas:

  • Farm Diversification
  • Agri-tourism
  • Craft Development

Consultants are requested to consult active link for more details. They then may be asked to attend an interview in our WCD office to discuss their quote. Submissions should be addressed to: Rural Business Training Tender, C/o Tony McCormack, Westmeath Community Development Ltd., Enterprise, Technology and Innovation Centre, Clonmore Business Park, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath or by email to tmccormack@westcd.ie

For further details visit  http://www.activelink.ie/node/12733



Rural Social Scheme Workers Available for Local Community Groups

Westmeath Community Development (WCD) are looking for community groups who may be interested in workers to register their interest in the case of any future vacancies. WCD’s Rural Social Scheme commenced in 2004. Since then, the scheme has provided 30 communities with workers to carry out work to help enhance rural communities.

There are currently  33 people employed by the scheme at present all contributing 19.5 hours of work per week to these communities.

Nationally, the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs retains overall responsibility for policy in relation to the scheme, including eligibility criteria. Locally the scheme is administered by Westmeath Community Development.

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. There are participants working with older peoples groups helping them to improve the community based services that serve the elderly.
  • Village and countryside enhancement projects. Westmeath have a proud tradition in the tidy towns competition with rural social scheme workers supporting these communities. This includes Streamstown, Finea and Rosemount Tidy Towns.
  • Social care and care of older people, community care for both pre-school and after-school groups. In Co. Westmeath, Community childcare facilities in Ballynacargy and Kinnegad are supported.
  • Environmental maintenance work - maintenance and care-taking of community and sporting facilities. Community facilities countywide are supported such as Streete Parish Park, Castledaly Community Centre, Moate GAA club, Tubberclair GAA club and Ballymore Community Hall.
  • Projects relating to not-for-profit cultural and heritage centres.


Any community groups  wishing to avail of the rural social scheme should contact Tony Mc Cormack at 044-9348571