Farm Assist Disregards to Automatically Apply in March

IFA Rural Development Chairman Joe Brady has welcomed the announcement by Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar, that the Farm Assist income and child disregards reintroduced in last October’s Budget, will automatically apply to all recipients of the scheme from the 8th March next.

Joe Brady said the reversal of previous Budgets decision on the disregards was a welcome boost to low income farmers and avoiding a full means test reassessment at this stage is vitally important for the 8,000 farmers in receipt of this important payment (see county- by-county breakdown below).

Farm Assist will be worth €83m in 2017 and IFA estimates farmers who previously would not have qualified may now be eligible as income qualification limits drop.

The IFA Rural Development Chairman said that the 30% income disregard and the child disregards of €254 for the first two children and €381 for the third and subsequent child will mean a significant increase for some farmers.

As an example, where a farmer’s spouse is not working and they have no children, with an assessed farm income of €10,000, their farm assist increase will increase from €120.50/week to €186.50. This is as a result of 30% disregards, the €5/week increase in the personal rate of Social Protection payment and a €3.30 increase in the dependant rate. If there were dependent children, the payment level would be higher.

Joe Brady has also reminded farmers that 500 additional Rural Social Scheme places are available bringing the total number of places in this important social employment scheme to 3,100.

Farm Assist Recipients by County 2016

County Number County Number
Kildare 21 Wexford 165
Dublin 35 Sligo 230
Wicklow 52 Cavan 263
Meath 53 Roscommon 274
Carlow 59 Tipperary 278
Louth 62 Leitrim 334
Waterford 65 Monaghan 345
Offaly 74 Clare 402
Laois 89 Kerry 576
Kilkenny 96 Cork 604
Westmeath 122 Galway 775
Longford 142 Donegal 1,301
Limerick 163 Mayo 1,306
Average per county 303 Total 7,886

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