SPEAKING following what he characterised as ‘a robust meeting’ with Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Jim Daly, president of the ICMSA, John Comer, acknowledged the Minister’s commitment to change one of the major problems for farm families interacting with the Fair Deal Scheme.
Mr Comer said that the proposal that that family farms will be subject to the same three-year cap contribution of 7.5% per annum to a maximum of 22.5% as is the domestic properties is crucial. He added that the commitment is subject to legal approval, but ICMSA expected that should be forthcoming shortly.
‘ICMSA has fought hard to make sure this cap was introduced, and great credit must go to Minister Daly who has shown real leadership on this issue. We will fully engage with the Minister in the coming weeks to make sure that this commitment gets over any hurdles and if, and when, it comes to legislation in the Dail, ICMSA will raise other issues such as the five-year “look back” on assets.
‘The proposed change in legislation is a major relief to many farm families who have relatives or dependents in nursing homes and currently have a lien on the family farm. As we stated at the meeting, family farms pass from generation to generation without the assets ever being liquidised and the Fair Deal – as it currently stands – actually forces the incumbent generation to sell the family farm to fund their care.’
The ICMSA president said that they also pressed the Minister for further clarity on certain aspect of the scheme such as the definition of ‘sudden illness.’ He said ‘clarity here would enable further progress around the terms and condition and also the area of who might be eligible for exemptions.’
The wider context of elder care was discussed as many farm families are uncertain times where help to care for dependents is concerned and the ICMSA was encouraged to see that a holistic yet clear approach is envisaged under the current minister.
‘The proposed change is one of the most critical pieces of legislation that will come before the Dail in the coming month and ICMSA is happy to acknowledge the efforts made to amend a wrong that is being done to farm families all over Ireland,’ concluded Mr Comer.