No preferential treatment for farmers in Fair Deal - Leo
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has warned farmers they will get no preferential treatment over other business owners ahead of the planned overhaul of the State's Nursing Home Support Scheme.
Mr Varadkar yesterday said he believes the long-awaited changes to Fair Deal will take place this year - despite serious legal concerns being raised by the Office of the Attorney General.
But Mr Varadkar warned that farmers will be treated in the same way as small business owners, who also face huge financial burdens when looking after their elderly loved ones.
Under the scheme at present a claimant's payment is calculated based on 80pc of their annual income, as well as a 7.5pc annual charge on their overall assets.
Assets that have been transferred within the previous five years are also means-tested.
Farmers have for months claimed the scheme in its current form places at risk their efforts to pass the farm on to future generations. One of the country's most powerful lobby groups, the Irish Farmer's Association (IFA), is seeking sweeping changes to the Fair Deal scheme, arguing it does not acknowledge a farmer's asset-rich but cash-poor status.
The suite of proposals put forward by the IFA would result in 90pc of farm assets being exempt from consideration when it comes to nursing home bills.
According to briefing documents seen by the Irish Independent, the lobby group also wants to reduce the period within which the State can target assets that have been transferred onto the farmer's children in the context of Fair Deal from five years to three.