Legislation to reform the Fair Deal Scheme has passed all stages of the Oireachtas after being approved by senators yesterday (Friday, July 16).

Th changes will see a three-year cap on the financial contributions of family farms and businesses when calculating the cost of nursing home care.

“This will bring peace of mind to farming and business communities across the country,” according to Fine Gael senator Tim Lombard.

“I’ve been inundated with calls from people wondering about the progress of this legislation and today marks significant progress on the path to signing this into law.

“The legislation introduces a three-year cap on the financial contributions of family owned and operated farms or businesses when calculating the cost for nursing home care. It’s a fundamental change to the current scheme and will apply where a family successor commits to working the farm or business,” Lombard noted.

He added: “We’ve all heard stories of families forced to sell their land to simply pay for long-term care for elderly family members. This is a huge legacy issue for the family and impacts their business and livelihood into the future.

“Families that have felt disenfranchised, some of whom have been burdened with a legacy of debt, can now be assured they have the same entitlements to healthcare and support as everyone else.

“We need to see continued momentum from Minister of State for older people Mary Butler to enact the legislation as soon as possible so that families can feel the full benefit of this change,” Lombard concluded.

The passage of the bill was also welcomed by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), whose president, Tim Cullinan, said it improves the Fair Deal Scheme for farm families.

However, Cullinan highlighted that “there are still challenges with the scheme”.

The IFA’s Farm Family Committee chairperson Caroline Farrell said: “The changes are badly needed as the current terms have impacted heavily on farm families.

“These changes are important. The bill now needs to be enacted as soon as possible,” Farrell added.