THERE has been a largely warm welcome from the farming organisations to last week’s changes to the Fair Deal scheme.
The government has approved a proposal to change the treatment of farms and businesses under the Nursing Home Support Scheme, also known as the ‘Fair Deal’ scheme.
Minister of State with responsibility for Older People Jim Daly, said the move would remove a great deal of stress and worry from the affected families and allow them to plan for the future.
And this week Caroline FarreIl of the FA Farm Family & Social committee welcomed the introduction of the three-year cap on farm business assets. She said it was important to move this forward in a speedy manner.
Ms Farrell also said the amendment to the Nursing Homes Support Scheme Act 2009 needed to be enacted as a matter of urgency to give certainty to farm families and to protect the future viability of the family farm.
‘I am very much looking forward to the publication of the Heads of Bill as these will provide greater clarity for farm families on the details of how the cap will be applied,’ she said.
She recognised Minister Daly’s commitment to progressing the changes to the scheme and said that she looked forward to continuing to work with the Minister to ensure these changes are introduced into legislation as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, the ICSA rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock has said the future viability of the family farm structure has moved a step closer with the changes.
‘Rectifying the profoundly unfair elements of the scheme has been a top priority for ICSA,’ he said.
‘For too long, farmers in particular have been stuck between a rock and a hard place when it came to Fair Deal.’
He added that the ICSA has always believed that a three-year cap was the most equitable solution for farming families and small businesses. The changes will see contributions from the asset capped at 22.5% over three years and will bring the treatment of family farms in line with the treatment of family homes.’