Farm Ireland

Friday 25 May 2018

New Government plan could save farm families thousands in nursing home fees

Farmers have long argued for changes to the scheme to the Fair Deal Scheme
Farmers have long argued for changes to the scheme to the Fair Deal Scheme
FarmIreland Team

FarmIreland Team

Farm families and those that own their own businesses are set to save thousands of euro in nursing home fees under a Budget deal that will protect their farm and business assets for the first time.

The Irish Independent has revealed that the Government plans to make changes to the fair deal scheme which will dramatically reduce the financial burden facing elderly people and their loved ones.

The Government's plan to overhaul Fair Deal will see the introduction of a three-year cap on contributions from farms and businesses.

This will dramatically reduce the financial burden facing elderly people and their loved ones.

Under the current scheme, families pay a 7.5pc annual contribution on their principal residence for a maximum of three years. However, the three-year cap does not apply to farmland or business premises - meaning the financial burden facing farmers and business owners is much greater.

Farming lobby groups say such rules can place the very viability of the farm for future generations at risk.

But the Irish Independent can reveal that Older People Minister Jim Daly has decided to introduce the same three-year cap on assets, in a bid to slash the bills facing thousands of families.

The plan, which now requires approval from Attorney General Seamus Woulfe, was discussed last night during a meeting between Mr Daly and the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA).

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If given the green light, it is likely to bring the long-running controversy over Fair Deal and farmers to an end.

Speaking after the meeting, IFA President Joe Healy said, “Minister Daly gave a commitment to introduce a change to the Fair Deal scheme that would mean a three year cap on the time a charge on productive farm assets would apply. This change is subject to the approval of the Attorney General and the Cabinet.

Joe Healy said changes to the scheme are long overdue and the removal of uncapped liability on farm assets would go some way to addressing the concerns of farm families.

'A cap will help to provide some certainty for farm families and would allow them to plan knowing the full potential liability on the farm asset.  The new cap must apply to all farm assets, similar to the charge on private principle residence." Joe Healy said.

Maura Canning said it is very important for farm families that there was a commitment from the Minister to introduce the proposed changes as soon as possible. She said the cap will be a relief for farm families as the uncapped liability on the farm was causing untold stress to those farm families affected. 

The Minister outlined to the IFA that he is awaiting legal opinion from the Attorney General on the proposed changes. He said he will then bring the proposed changes before Cabinet for approval. The changes will require an amendment to the Nursing Home Support Scheme Act 2008. It will take a number of months for this legislation to pass through the Oireachtas so it will be into 2018 before any revised scheme is in place.

Joe Healy said that there would be a degree of frustration with the length of time it will take to implement the changes. He said IFA will be having follow-up meetings with the Minister to discuss further detail relating to the proposed changes and to ensure that the changes are implemented as soon as possible.

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