…but Fitzmaurice wants clarity
Local politicians Michael Fitzmaurice and Maura Hopkins have welcomed the Cabinet’s approval of proposed reforms to the Fair Deal Scheme. However, Deputy Fitzmaurice said that he is keen for some clauses to be clarified.
Approval from Cabinet for the proposed Fair Deal Scheme reforms was announced recently by the Minister of Health, Simon Harris, along with the Department’s Minister of State, Jim Daly.
At the moment, people availing of the scheme have to contribute up to 80% of their income and up to 7.5% of the value of any assets held towards their cost of care.
The 7.5% only applies to a person’s home for the first three years of their care as part of the Nursing Homes Support – aka Fair Deal – Scheme. Until now, this three-year cap did not apply to farms or businesses.
The extension of the cap, should it get the green light, to farms and businesses will only apply where a family successor continues to farm the land – or operate the business – for a period of six years.
Commenting on the developments, Deputy Fitzmaurice said: “These proposed changes are a welcome boost to the many farm families who are struggling to cover nursing home costs for their loved ones. In some instances, families have had to consider selling off land to cover the costs – which could make the farm unviable for future generations.
“While it has been disappointing that the Government has dragged its heels over this reform, it is now imperative that the extension of the three-year cap to farms and businesses is formalised as quickly as possible.
“The fact that the changes will apply retrospectively to those already in care as well as those who may go into care in the coming months is also a huge boost to farm families”.
However, the Roscommon-Galway TD is keen for the minister to clarify details surrounding clauses to allow the three-year cap to be extended.
Fine Gael Senator Maura Hopkins said that proposed changes to the Fair Deal Scheme will have a positive impact on farm families and those in business.
Senator Hopkins said: “These changes will have a very positive impact for families with farms or who are in business. These changes will ensure the future viability of many farms by allowing them to be passed on to close family members without an unsustainable debt burden.
“The primary condition is that the successor on the farm must give an undertaking to continue working the land for at least six years. I will continue to lobby on this six-year commitment in order to ensure that it doesn’t place an unfair burden on farm families”.