Longford-Westmeath Fine Gael TD, Peter Burke, says the Government are reviewing the Fair Deal Scheme and the detrimental way it can affect farmers.
Speaking in Ballymahon this week, Deputy Burke said that he had concerns that family farms may be eroded and rendered non-viable due to the dilution of the Farm Asset Scheme, and he wants to ensure that this does not happen.
“A review of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme was published in 2015 which identified that the treatment of farm assets for the purpose of financial assessment was a serious issue,” he said. “The Nursing Home Support Scheme, or Fair Deal, was first introduced in 2009 for those who need long-term nursing care in a public, voluntary, or private nursing home. A contribution is made by the person in question based on their income and assets and the balance is paid by the State.
“Means tests are carried out before the amount paid by the person is adjudicated, and because land assets are taken into account I have serious concerns that family farms are being eroded and seriously minimised for future generations who are set to inherit them.”
Deputy Burke says the cost of nursing home care is forcing families into offering more of their land as a means of ensuring their loved ones are adequately provided for in their later lives: “Nursing homes are expensive, as anyone with any older relations will know, often costing up to €1,000 a week and more in some cases, sums totally unsustainable for elderly people and their families,” he said.
“As such, families are being forced to offer up more and more of their farm in order to secure long-term care for their loved ones, often causing serious distress for all parties involved.
“I am glad that this situation is being reviewed by an inter-department working group. I have been in touch with the IFA who have made a submission to the working group and I have contacted the secretary of the group to make my views on this known.
“I have requested a meeting and am hopeful that there will be a legislative change which facilitates farmers. At a time when many farmers are struggling to make a wage, and when younger farmers are questioning how sustainable the profession is in relation to supporting young families, we need to ensure schemes like this do not add more obstacles to the industry.”