Farm Ireland

Saturday 20 January 2018

Family farms at risk of being sold off due to delay in nursing home review

Mattie McGrath. Photo: Tom Burke
Mattie McGrath. Photo: Tom Burke
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

Family farms are being put at risk by the long wait for the promised review of the Fair Deal scheme for nursing home care, it has been warned.

There has been ongoing pressure to bring in changes to the scheme to prevent farmers having to sell off parts of the farm to pay high nursing home bills.

Independent TD Mattie McGrath said there has been "no significant progress" made, and a review of the scheme at Government level has been ongoing for some time.

The programme for government had committed to reviewing the nursing homes support scheme to remove any discrimination against small businesses and family farms.

Read more: Farmers set to save thousands with revamp of Fair Deal fees

Mr McGrath said the Rural Independent Group were bringing forward a motion in the Dail next week seeking a reduced charge on the farm business assets similar to the 90pc agricultural relief rate.

The ICMSA's Lorcan McCabe said changes to the scheme were "long overdue and necessary to ensure the survival of farms and other self-employed activities".

Read more: Analysis: 'Fair Deal scheme pays scant attention to complexity of land succession'

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Mr McCabe said they have frequently pointed out that the "Fair Deal is to all intents and purposes unworkable".

"A farm is not a capital asset, it is a means by which the farmer earns his or her income," he said. He said the lack of an "upper limit" on the State charges endangers the whole farm.

The motion before the Dail will call for the review to be published immediately or completed within a month. It will look to reduce the time an asset needs to be transferred to another person before entering a nursing home from five to three years and seek new legislation.

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