‘No excuse’ for Fair Deal legislation delay – IFA

There have been calls for “greater transparency” in the cost of nursing home fees – with simultaneous calls for this not to impact the government’s commitment to introducing a three-year cap on productive farm assets under the Fair Deal Scheme.

Tim Cullinan, the president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), argued that delays in introducing the recommendations from 2015’s ‘Review of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme, A Fair Deal’ were “at the heart of both these issues”.

“The review recommended greater transparency of the pricing mechanism and that the scheme must ensure value for money,” Cullinan explained.

According to the IFA, that report recognised that farm assets should be treated differently, as they were income generating assets that typically passed to the next generation as a primary income source.

The IFA also pointed out that the Programme for Government commits to enacting legislation implementing the revised Nursing Home Support Scheme arrangements for farmers (as well as business owners).

Caroline Farrell, the IFA’s Farm Family and Social Affairs chairperson, said that “the individual stories of distress and waiting helplessly as the viability of family farms is threatened due to the delays cannot be underestimated”.

“It’s already a very difficult time for families when a loved one has to go into a nursing home – without the added worries of the farm being lost to pay for the cost of care,” Farrell added.

Legislation

Legislation relating to the Fair Deal Scheme is set to come before the Dáil during its autumn session, it is understood.

Speaking in the Dáil last month, in response to a question from independent Cork South-West TD Michael Collins, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said: “I believe that legislation will be on the autumn schedule, when we come back in September.”

Earlier in the month, Taoiseach Micheál Martin also indicated a possible timeline for the legislation, saying: “I do not think that legislation will be dealt with this month, so it will fall to the autumn session.”