Changes to the Fair Deal scheme for farmers and small business owners are progressing with a memo due to be submitted to Government shortly, according to Fine Gael Kildare South TD Martin Heydon.“In response to a recent parliamentary question Minister of State at the Department of Health Jim Daly advised that progress is being made on the proposed changes with a Memorandum due to be submitted to Government shortly.
“Under the current scheme that funds many of our older citizens stay in nursing homes the contribution from a principal primary residence is capped at 3 years. However no such cap is in place for productive assets such as farm land or assets of small business owners. The proposals being considered would apply a similar three year cap to productive farm and business assets to allow the continued use of the farm and business.
These changes would be a positive practical change to this popular scheme which would help to alleviate financial stress on families who have loved ones in nursing homes. I continue to liaise with the Minister to ensure the changes are processed as soon as possible.
NOTES TO THE EDITOR
* To ask the Minister for Health the timeline on the proposed introduction of changes to the fair deal legislation to assist farmers and small business owners; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
– Martin Heydon T.D.
For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 12 July, 2018.
The review of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme (NHSS) was published in July 2015. Arising out of the review, a recommendation was made to examine the treatment of business and farm assets for the purposes of the financial assessment element of the scheme. The Programme for a Partnership Government also committed to reviewing the NHSS to remove any discrimination against small businesses and family farms.
At present, the capital value of an individual’s principal private residence is only included in the financial assessment for the first three years of their time in care. This is known as the three year cap. This cap does not apply to productive assets such as farms and businesses except in cases of sudden illness or disability where specific conditions are met.
It is proposed to amend the scheme to treat farm and business assets in the same manner as the principal private residence where a family successor commits to working the farm or business, i.e. to cap contributions at three years.
The Department of Health has been examining the potential for changes to the treatment of business and farm assets under the Nursing Homes Support Scheme. Any changes to the scheme, if approved by Government, will require amendment of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme Act 2009.
A Memorandum for Government setting out the details of the proposed policy change and seeking Government approval to draft the General Scheme of a bill to amend the Nursing Homes Support Scheme Act 2009 has been circulated to other Government Departments for observations and will be submitted to Government shortly.