The long-awaited Fair Deal scheme should be “operational” by the summer Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue has said.
Speaking in the Dáil this week, in response to questions from Fianna Fáil Clare TD Cathal Crowe, the minister said: “The Bill is due to come before Dáil Éireann this term. The objective is to have it in place and operational by summertime.”
Crowe said many farm families are waiting with bated breath to see what new legislation will be introduced regarding the Fair Deal scheme.
Fianna Fáil leader Michael Martin earlier this month said the Government was committed to getting the legislation introduced, but did not commit to a time frame.
Legislation will cap how much farmers and business owners have to contribute towards nursing-home costs.
Delays over the last few years on the Fair Deal scheme, Martin said at the IFA agm have been “inexcusable and I know have been a source of considerable anxiety”.
The Taoiseach did not commit to a time frame for introduction of the legislation, only that he would be working with the various ministers and petitioners and the Attorney General’s office “to make sure we can get the legislation through, formulated effectively, and getting it through the house. We are committed to getting it done."
The change to the Nursing Home Support Scheme (NHSS) is to cap contributions based on farm and business assets at three years where a family successor commits to continuing the operation when the owner is in care.
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 and there is no cap on contributions.
In order to qualify for the new scheme the farmer/business owner, their partner or nominated family successor must have worked the farm or business for three out of the previous five years.