Independent TD Carol Nolan has called for “action and a definite date” for introduction of the new Fair Deal scheme.

Speaking in the Dáil, she asked Taoiseach Micheál Martin to provide a timeline of when the long-promised Nursing Homes Support Scheme (Amendment) Bill would be published and debated.

“In 2017, the Rural Independent Group brought forward a motion calling on government to honour its commitments around the reform [of] the Fair Deal scheme,” the Laois-Offaly TD said.

“This included removing discrimination against small businesses and family farms and the introduction of a reduced charge on the farm/business assets.

The purpose of this was to help remove the uncertainty for farm families and the self-employed and to protect the future viability of the farm/business asset for future generations.

“Since that date, almost four years ago, there have been endless commitments by minister after minister to see the legislation underpinning those reforms introduced.

“Not a single one of these has materialised.”

‘We need action’

The government has said that the bill is due to come before the Dáil this term, and to be operational by the summertime.

“Here we are in March 2021 and the Taoiseach has yet again re-committed to having the reforms published before this summer’s Dail recess,” deputy Nolan said.

The Taoiseach did accept that the current system is unfair and that it is placing additional financial burdens on farming families and I welcome that.

“But we need more than words and hollow commitments on this. We need action and a definite date for introduction.”

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told the Dáil in January that the new legislation aims to provide “additional safeguards for future generations of family farmers and business owners”.

He said that the purpose of the amendment will be “to cap contributions based on farm and business assets at three years where a family successor commits to working the productive asset”.