LONG promised reform to the Fair Deal scheme which would make it more viable for the farming community has still not come into law, despite getting government approval last June.
That’s according to Cork South West Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns, who has raised the controversial issue in the Dail this week and called for immediate action to be taken to the scheme which she says currently puts farms at risk of going out of business.
Last summer, the IFA organised several national protests to highlight issues with the scheme for people who need long-term nursing home care
The organisation said the levy imposed on family farms to contribute to nursing home fees was more in line with the treatment of businesses than family homes.
As part of the scheme, assets are levied at 7.5% although this is capped on family homes at three years. The farming community has sought, and received a commitment the same cap will be applied to farms.
This was acknowledged as unfair by Government, however no changes have yet been made.
Deputy Cairns, SocDems’ spokesperson for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, has now called on the Government to legislate on necessary reforms needed to the scheme to ensure it works for farmers and small business owners.
‘This has been an ongoing issue for farmers and small business owners in West Cork for years, which results in the scheme being unviable for many as it puts the farm or business at risk.
‘In the Dail this week, I called on the Taoiseach to immediately bring forward the necessary changes to the scheme that will cap contributions based on farm and business assets at three years. This will better reflect people’s ability to pay.
‘Fair Deal as currently constructed is of considerable concern to farmers and small business owners who feel like they have to balance the care of a spouse or parent against the viability of the family farm or business.
‘Nursing homes and care of the elderly are difficult topics for families, and the technicalities of the scheme can be hard to understand. Extra confusion over payments or concerns for the future of the farm only add to the distress.’
She pointed out that the that the the General Scheme of Bill for these changes was approved by Government in June 2019.
‘I cannot understand the reason for the delay. The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment and Transport has assured me the legislation will be raised before Christmas. I will be holding the Government to this deadline.’