Fair deal scheme to benefit farmers and small business owners in Westmeath

Changes to the treatment of farms and businesses under the Fair Deal Scheme is a great development for older people and their families in Westmeath, according to Deputy Peter Burke TD.

The Fair Deal Programme is a scheme under which the cost of nursing home care is managed through the HSE paying either the full or part of the cost. The scheme allows those responsible with paying the resident’s portion to defer the charges.

Welcoming the changes, Deputy Burke said, "I’m delighted that the Government has decided to make the Fair Deal fairer on certain categories of people applying. The Programme for a Partnership Government committed to remove discrimination against small business and family farms under the scheme.

“The Government has now agreed to extend this three year cap to farms and businesses where a family successor continues to operate the farm or business for six years. This is a very welcome move and will go some way to easing the pressure on older people and their families here in Westmeath.

“I want to thank my colleague Minister of State, Jim Daly for his hard work on this and for responding to calls from rural TDs like myself who have long requested this change be made to ease the burden on farm families and small business owners,” the Fine Gael TD said.

The Cabinet gave approval for Minister of State with special responsibility for Mental Health and Older People, Deputy Jim Daly TD, to immediately begin work on the necessary legislation to introduce the changes. Under the current regime, farm and business owners are required to give the State 7.5 percent of the value of their land for each year spent in a nursing home. This will now be capped at three years.

Burke, who comes from a farming family himself, said that this move will remove a great deal of stress and worry from the affected families and allow them to plan for the future.

“It will allow them to continue to run the family business without the fear of losing it. Moreover, it will allow farmers continue to farm on their families land without eroding the business on an annual basis. It will allow the next generation to make firmer plans for their land and have more security in relation to their parents long term care if a situation arises where a nursing home is needed.

“I have met with a lot of constituents on this matter since my election who were worried that when a parent fell ill and needed full time care, they would be in danger of losing the family farm, or undoing a lifetime’s work to build up a farm enterprise and holding. This is very positive news and I will be pushing Minister Daly to expedite the drafting and implementation of this legislation as a priority”.

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