Who is eligible?
Farmers whose income is below a certain level based on a factual assessment (see rates). It is estimated that about 7,500 farmers are currently in receipt of Small Holders Assistance.

What are the rates of payment of social welfare?
A farmer on Social Welfare starts off on the short-term rate for the first 15 months, then moves on to long-term rate. The amount a farmer receives depends on the means assessed.

From June 1 1998 the short-term rate is
Personal Rate £68.40
Adult dependant £41.20
Long-term rate
Personal Rate £70.50
Adult dependant £41.20

Additional amount for child dependants £13.20(for both)

Who do you apply to?
Farmers should apply to their local Social Welfare branch/office.

How is income assessed?
Through a means test carried out on the farm by a Social Welfare Inspector.

What does the assessment entail?
It takes into account all income to the farm (sales, plus headage and premia) and all outgoings and expenses of running the farm. Assessment on property or money on deposit can also be taken into account. (See Old Age Means Tested Pensions). Farmers are advised to have receipts for all items. An IN93 form is completed by the Social Welfare Inspector in the presence of the farmer.
The first £2,000 of income associated with the REPS scheme is not assessed as means. In the case of SAC REPS top up, 50% of the additional payment is exempted. In the case of the SAC compensation scheme operated by the Department of Arts, Heritage, the Gaeltacht and the Islands, the first £2,000 is exempted.

How often is the assessment done?
Normally the assessment is done on a three year basis. However, a farmer can apply for a reassessment of means if the income has deteriorated since the last assessment.

In the event of the farmer not being satisfied with the assessment can he appeal it?
Yes. An appeal can be made within 21 days of the deciding officer's decision being issued to you. IFA recommends that an oral hearing be sought by the farmer and that all of the details of the farm are brought to the hearing. Contact your local IFA office for help.

If a spouse is working off the farm, is that income taken into account?
Yes. If a spouse/partner is employed off the farm, the income/earnings are taken into account. If the income/earnings are £90 or more, the farmer can claim his own personal rate plus half the rate of any child dependent on his claim. An increase for a qualified adult at a reduced rate is payable in cases where the spouse's earnings/income are between £60 and £90 per week. Any earnings in excess of £45 per week are taken into account when assessing means.

Can a farmer on social welfare participate in FÁS Community Employment Schemes (CES) and the Back to Work Area Allowance Scheme?
Yes in both cases. There is also a scheme called an Area Allowance Enterprise which assists people starting businesses. Information can be received from Area Partnerships or the Social Welfare Job Facilitator in the local office.

How does the Community Employment Scheme (CES) operate?
Normally on a week-on, week-off basis. Farmers are eligible to participate if they wish, but it is not compulsory. A farmer can apply by contacting his local FÁS office.

In relation to the Back to Work Allowance Scheme, how does it operate?
A farmer on Social Welfare who sets up a business unrelated to the farm business can get 100% Social Welfare entitlement for year 1, 75% for year 2, 50% for year 3 and 25% for year 4 in order to help the business get off the ground. This applies through the area partnerships and other areas.

Are there other benefits that a farmer can avail of under Social Welfare?
Yes. A farmer can apply for the fuel allowance scheme which is worth £5 per week. Also a farmer can avail of study options under the Back to Education Programme.
Second level certificate courses.
Third level education.
Education, Training & Development courses.
Part-time education courses.
Courses under the Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme.

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