Donegal Deputy Pearse Doherty is urging the Government to stop dragging its heels and to implement long-awaited changes to the Fair Deal Scheme – the State initiative set up to provide financial support to those in need of nursing home care.
Farmers are planning a protest outside the Department of Health today (Tuesday) over the lack of progress being made on the reform of the Fair Deal Scheme.
Under the changes, it’s proposed to cap participant contributions on farm assets at three years where a family member commits to working those farm assets, something not allowed for under the current programme at present.
Calling on the Minister for Health to urgently implement the reforms, Deputy Doherty said: “Under Fair Deal, you pay a contribution towards the cost of your nursing home care with the State picking up the rest of the tab.
“The amount a participant to the scheme pays depends on their income as well as whatever assets they hold.
“While under the current regime there is a limit on the value of the family home which can be used to pay towards your care, farming families and small business owners are required to set aside a percentage of the value of their land annually to fund their care needs.
“However, changes being proposed to the scheme would see this bill capped at three years, and would give farmland assets the same status as the family home.
“Yet, despite commitments from government as far back as 2016 to reform the current pricing mechanism, the government continues to drag its heels.”
Sinn Féin Deputy Doherty said that farmers need a solid commitment as they face the ‘totally avoidable consequences’ of a failure to reform the scheme.
He said: “Only last week, I raised the delay with the Minister in the Dáil who told me that while his department is continuing to work on the development of a draft Heads of Bill for the proposed legislation and hopes to bring it to cabinet by May, he says that this is subject to legal advice.
“While these reforms are important and are eagerly awaited, farming families urgently need a solid commitment on when the changes will actually come into force.
“Recently, I met with representatives from the IFA here in Donegal who voiced their frustration at this stalemate and they also highlighted the real impact this delay is having on farming families here who have already waited long enough on this government to get its act together and legislate in this area.
“Farmers and their loved ones must not be strung along any longer when it comes to their nursing home care needs, and so I pledge to continue to lobby strongly on their behalf and call on Government to urgently implement these reforms without further delay.”Tags: