IFA president Joe Healy said progress on the Fair Deal Scheme is important for farm families, who have been waiting nearly five years for the government to make good on a commitment to remove discrimination against family farms and small business.
‘It has been a long road and I want to acknowledge the work of Minister of State for Older People Jim Daly in finally making this happen. It is important for farm families whose farm businesses are being made unviable for the next generation,’ he said.
Mr Daly secured cabinet clearance for the critical reform of the Fair Deal system on Tuesday and expressed the hope that a Bill implementing this will be introduced in the Oireachtas before the summer recess.
Jim Daly said: ‘I and Health Minister Simon Harris secured initial Government approval of a memorandum proposing the changes last July and, since then, we have been working on delivering change for family farmers and small businesses.
‘This reform process was highly complex involving intense legal scrutiny to ensure that citizens constitutional property rights are respected and protected. Following cabinet approval, work will start immediately to bring the Bill before the Oireachtas.’
He added: ‘I would like to thank my cabinet colleagues for their collegiality and support and I now hope to secure cross-party support for this small but critical change whose chief beneficiaries will be farm families and small business owners.’
The change to the Nursing Homes Support Scheme will cap contributions based on farming or business assets at three years where a family successor commits to working the productive asset.
This three-year cap will be extended to eligible existing participants in long term residential care so that they are not disadvantaged.
The full year cost of this change to the Scheme is estimated at €7.3m per annum increasing after three years when it is estimated the cost will increase to €10.6m per annum.
It is forecast that, nationally, Fair Deal will support 23,042 people on average in residential care at year-end 2019, and it is understood that in excess of 300 of these residents could be making contributions to care for more than three years.
Minister of State Daly concluded: ‘Hopefully now, politics can unite to progress this reforming measure as swiftly as possible.’