Government called on to take action on Fair Deal reform

The government has been urged to legislate on reforms needed for the Fair Deal Scheme to ensure it works for farmers and small business owners.

The calls were made by Social Democrats spokesperson for agriculture Holly Cairns.

Making the calls, the Cork TD said: “In the financial assessment for the scheme, the value of farm assets is taken into account – but limits are applied to a 7.5% per annum contribution, which is capped for others.

This has been an ongoing issue for farmers and small business owners for years, which results in the scheme being unviable for many as it puts the farm or business at risk.

The TD said that, in the Dáil earlier this week, she called on the Taoiseach to “immediately bring forward the necessary changes” to the scheme that will cap contributions based on farm and business assets at three years.

This will better reflect people’s ability to pay, she added.

“Fair Deal as currently constructed is of considerable concern to farmers and small business owners who feel like they have to balance the care of a spouse or parent against the viability of the family farm or business.

“Nursing homes and care of the elderly are difficult topics for families, and the technicalities of the scheme can be hard to understand.

Extra confusion over payments or concerns for the future of the farm only add to the distress.

Stating that such reforms are long overdue and the government needs to move the legislation, the TD added:

“It is worth pointing out that the general scheme of bill for these changes was approved by government in June 2019 so I cannot understand the reason for the delay.

“The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment and Transport has assured me the legislation will be raised before Christmas. I will be holding the government to this deadline,” deputy Cairns concluded.