A decision has been made to extend the three-year cap under the Fair Deal Scheme to farms and businesses where a family successor continues to operate the farm or business for six years.

The approval was given today, Tuesday, June 11, by the Minister for Health Simon Harris, and the Minister of State with special responsibility for Mental Health and Older People, Jim Daly.

The bill is intended to change the treatment of family farms and businesses under the Nursing Homes Support Scheme, also known as the Fair Deal Scheme.

People using the Fair Deal Scheme contribute up to 80% of their income and up to 7.5% of the value of any assets they hold towards the cost of their care.

The value of a person’s home is only included in the financial assessment for the first three years of their time in care.

Commenting on the announcement, Minister Daly said: “Early succession planning remains a key objective of this and other Government policy, including agricultural policy.

Alongside this decision, it is important that farm and business families continue to engage at an early stage in retirement and succession planning.

“It is also important to note that farm and business assets [along with all other assets] are not considered under the financial assessment in the scheme if they have been transferred to others, including the next generation, over five years before nursing home care is required, making this the most financially prudent approach.”

The Department of Health will now engage in ‘pre-legislative scrutiny’ and will engage with the Office of the Attorney General in preparing the legislation for publication.

Commenting on the announcement, Minister Harris said: “I am pleased that Government has approved this general scheme of a bill, which stands to positively affect family farm and business owners who are in, or are going into, nursing home care across the country.

This will make a substantial difference and finally remove the discrimination many of them faced under the existing law.

Concluding, Minister Harris said: “I want to commend my colleague Minister Daly for his work to date on this issue. I would encourage political parties to work with us to pass this legislation as a matter of priority.”