Families face more uncertainty as Fair Deal scheme delayed
Farm families face months of continued uncertainty around the Fair Deal scheme as legislation which is expected to reduce the burden of nursing home fees may not be approved until the autumn.
An announcement on changes to the scheme had been expected in the Budget last October. It was expected changes to the scheme and the heads of bill would be announced before Christmas - but this is now understood to be months away. It's understood fears about the potential for family feuds delayed changes to the scheme.
"We have yet to see the heads of bill, let alone the full bill. It will take a significant number of months to have it passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas and signed into law by the President," said Fianna Fáil TD and spokesperson for older people Mary Butler.
"During that period, hundreds of farm families will be locked into the old Fair Deal scheme and will miss out on the benefits of these changes."
One key concern officials have is that an elderly farmer or business owner could move into a nursing home on the understanding that one child would take over the business - but ultimately it could be bequeathed to another child.
Officials are concerned that such a scenario could result in a dispute over who pays the nursing home bill, with the potential to end up in court.
Under the current regime, farming families and small business owners are required to set aside 7.5pc of the value of their property annually in order to fund a place in a nursing home. If someone ended up staying in a nursing home for 10 years, potentially 75pc of the assets would go back to the State. The overhaul will see this bill capped at three years.