THE progress of legislation that would reduce Fair Deal nursing home costs for farm families has been delayed by Covid-19, the Department of Health has said.
At present, the capital value of an individual's principal private residence is only included in the financial assessment for the first three years of their time in care - this is known as the three-year cap.
However, this cap does not apply to productive assets such as farms and businesses except in cases of sudden illness or disability where specific conditions are met.
Under legislation approved by the Government in June 2019, it was proposed to extend the three-year cap provision to farmers and business owners.
The current system sees farm families and small business owners required to set aside 7.5pc of the value of their land annually to fund a place in a nursing home.
The proposed policy change to the Nursing Homes Support Scheme would cap contributions based on farm and business assets at three years, where a family successor commits to working the productive asset.
The Department said that this proposed policy change will be extended to eligible existing participants in long-term residential care so that they are not disadvantaged. However, it also said there would be no retrospective recoupment of contributions for those who have paid contributions over and above the three-year period.
It said the changes to the scheme will come into effect as soon as the legislative process is successfully complete.
However, the Department said the progress of the bill has been delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic due to the Department's workload in responding to the pandemic.
The Department added that the budget for the Nursing Homes Support Scheme, commonly referred to as Fair Deal, has been increased to €1.07bn for 2020, up from €986.2m.