McGrath: ‘Delay in Fair Deal Scheme totally unacceptable’

Independent Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath has called on the Minister of State for Older People, Jim Daly, to explain the delay in implementing the proposed changes to the Nursing Home Support Scheme, also known as the ‘Fair Deal’ Scheme.

Deputy McGrath said it was “absurd” that the changes have not been implemented yet, after a seven-month wait.

In July 2018, Minister Daly confirmed that the Government had approved a proposal to change how farmers were affected by the scheme, and to put in place a three-year cap on contributions from families for an elderly relative in a nursing home, where a family successor continues to operate the farm.

However, since that date, it appears that next to nothing has been done to make those changes a reality.

“We all acknowledge that Minister Daly genuinely seems to appreciate the inequity that currently exists, but the time for waiting is over,” argued McGrath.

He added: “Brexit is looming and there is enough uncertainty for farmers to be dealing with as it is. We need to see the heads of the bill, and to have this matter escalated as soon as possible.”

McGrath claimed it was “simply unacceptable” for uncertainty to continue on this matter, particularly in the context of a potentially uncapped liability.

This uncertainty also exists in terms of the financial assessment applied where assets have been transferred prior to entering nursing home care, but for less than five years.

McGrath made these comments following talks with the Irish Farmers’ Association, who are calling for the three-year cap to be introduced for farms that are currently leased, but where a family successor has a verified commitment that they will continue to farm for six years.

“These changes must be introduced without delay and retrospectively applied to July, when the cabinet approved proposals for new and existing farmers availing of the scheme,” he concluded.