Kildare South Fine Gael TD Martin Heydon has welcomed progress this week on the review of the Fair Deal scheme as it relates to farmers and small business owners. Following my numerous representations Minister with responsibility for Older People Jim Daly has confirmed to me that he intends to bring forward proposals to amend the scheme.
“I have long argued for changes to the Fair Deal scheme as it applies to famers and small business owners who have been treated very harshly under the scheme since its inception. While the contribution on the family home was capped after three years, farmers and small business owners faced indefinite contributions on their assets which in some cases threatened the viability of the farm and business itself.
“Minister Jim Daly has now confirmed to me that he is proposing that the three year cap will be extended to farm and small business assets. This follows a review of the scheme in July 2015 and commitments contained in the Programme for Partnership Government.
“I have met many constituents over the past 6 years who faced serious financial concerns over their business while also worrying about their loved ones in the nursing home. I am hopeful that these new proposals will help to alleviate these concerns.
“As the fair deal scheme is governed by legislation, Minister Daly is now seeking legal advice from the Attorney General regarding these changes and I will continue to work with him to ensure the best outcome is secured for Kildare farmers and business owners as soon as possible.
ANSWER TO RECENT PARLIAMENTARY QUESTION
For Oral Answer on : 28/09/2017
Question Number(s): 70 Question Reference(s): 40937/17 Oral
To ask the Minister for Health the position regarding the work of the interdepartmental agency working group established to oversee the implementation of certain recommendations contained in the review of the fair deal scheme from July 2015, with specific reference to the recommendations relating to the financial assessment of family farms and small businesses; the expected timeframe for the completion of the work; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
– Martin Heydon T.D.
The Nursing Homes Support Scheme (NHSS) is a system of financial support for those in need of long-term nursing home care. Participants contribute to the cost of their care according to their income and assets while the State pays the balance of the cost. The Scheme aims to ensure that long-term nursing home care is accessible and affordable for everyone and that people are cared for in the most appropriate settings.
When the NHSS commenced in 2009, a commitment was made that it would be reviewed after three years. The Report of the Review was published in July 2015. Arising out of the Review, a number of key issues have been identified for more detailed consideration across Departments and Agencies.
An Interdepartmental/Agency Working Group has been established to progress the recommendations contained in the Review. This Group is chaired by the Department of Health and includes representatives from the Department of the Taoiseach, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the HSE, the Revenue Commissioners, and when required, the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF). These recommendations include examining the treatment of business and farm assets for the purposes of the financial assessment element of the Scheme. The programme for a Partnership Government has also committed to reviewing the NHSS to remove any discrimination against small businesses and family farms. It is important to remember that the NHSS is largely underpinned by primary legislation and changes to the NHSS will require legislative implementation.
On this basis, I have requested legal advice from the office of the Attorney General regarding potential changes to the legislation that will address this matter. I have met with representatives from the I.F.A. yesterday evening to discuss various strategies that may assist with addressing their members concerns and have apprised them of the current progress. We agreed to meet again in the near future for further discussions. I am committed to this review of the position with regard to family farms and small businesses for the purposes of the financial assessment of the scheme.