Increased Christmas bonus welcome

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News that almost 9,000 farmers nationally in receipt of Farm Assist are set to benefit from the increase in the Christmas bonus from 25% to 75% was welcomed this week by Galway East TD Paul Connaughton TD.

‘Farm Assist provides a vital lifeline for many farmers on very low incomes and I know that the increased Christmas bonus will be very good news in many homes across East Galway as it will allow families to meet some of the extra expenses associated with the Christmas period and go some way to reducing the ongoing financial pressure that they are under.

‘I also welcome the fact that participants on the Rural Social Scheme are to receive an additional €2.50 per week, great work is being done throughout the county by participants on RSS. The major complaint that I constantly hear about the Rural Social Scheme is the lack of places available in this region and I will be taking this up again with the Minister in coming weeks.

‘While the increased Christmas Bonus will provide some relief to families in coming weeks, I continue to have many issues with the operation of Farm Assist. It is becoming more and more difficult for low income farmers to access the scheme and this is backed up by the numbers, down from 14,000 in 2006 to 9,000 at the moment. In financial terms, these are the farm families most at risk of poverty and I will continue to work to ensure that their voices are heard and the difficulties that they encounter with the scheme are highlighted and necessary and overdue changes made.’