Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue has welcomed the enhances protections for family farms and businesses that will come under a new Fair Deal Bill.
The Bill has passed through all stages of Dáil Eireann and Seanad Éireann of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme (Amendment) Bill 2021. It will now be sent to the President for signature.
The Bill will amend the Nursing Homes Support Scheme, commonly known as Fair Deal.
This change to the Scheme will mean that after a period of 3 years, the value of family-owned farms and businesses will no longer be taken into account when calculating the cost of a person’s nursing home care. This will happen where a family successor commits to working the farm or business.
The Bill will also extend the existing 3 year cap on contributions to the cost of care to the proceeds of sale of a person’s principal residence. This is consistent with the scheme’s core principle of fairness, by treating the home and its proceeds of sale in a similar way. It is intended that this change will also remove any disincentive for people who want to sell their vacant home while in Fair Deal, an important consideration in the context of the housing crisis.
Additional changes in the Bill include the introduction of the right for any person, when attending an interview under the Scheme, to be accompanied by another person over 18 years of age. There is also provision for the Bill, once enacted, to come into operation within 90 days.
Minister McConalogue commented: “The emotional stress of being forced to place a loved one in the care of a nursing home is compounded for many families, by the significant financial pressure associated with achieving quality long term care. Unfortunately, this is too often the case, and reflects heart-breaking scenarios for many families across rural Ireland.
We thank the hard work of officials and members of Cabinet, and in particular Minister of State Mary Butler T.D., in delivering this piece of legislation.”
“This legislation will ensure that the Fair Deal Scheme is a fair deal for all. It will deliver fairness, enhancing protections and improving accessibility and affordability of long-term care among farm families and small businesses” concluded the Minister.