Longford farmers to reap benefits from proposed changes to Fair Deal Scheme – Deputy Peter Burke

Longford Leader Reporter

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Longford/Westmeath Fine Gael TD Peter Burke

Longford/Westmeath Fine Gael TD Peter Burke says Longford farmers will reap benefits from proposed changes to Fair Deal Scheme

Longford farm families are set to save thousands of euro in nursing home fees under a new proposal that would protect their assets. That’s according to Peter Burke, Longford Westmeath Fine Gael TD and Chartered Accountant with a strong family background in farming.

Commentating on the proposed changes this week, Burke said: “My colleague, the new Minister of State for Older People Jim Daly, met with the Irish Farmers' Association on Wednesday evening of this week following previous meetings and a follow up commitment. His predecessor Minister Helen McEntee had also done a lot of research and investigative work with farmers to see how nursing home fees could be stopped from eroding family farms.

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“The Minister has proposed to cap the 7.5% contribution for nursing home care on farm and business assets at 3 years, as is the case for family homes. There is currently no such cap on farms and businesses and the 7.5% is charged every year for as long as care is provided.  I know this has been problematic for many farmers locally in Longford and across the country who find their family farm significantly diminished after a family member has needed to be placed in a nursing home facility due to old age, lack of mobility or extensive care needs.

“This situation was clearly disadvantageous to farmers and Fine Gael committed to address it in the Programme for Government.  This proposal is subject to Government approval but it’s very positive to note that the HSE have made provision for estimated costs in its budget 2018 submission.  I will be making representations to Minister Jim Daly and have already spoke to Minister Simon Harris and Minister McEntee about the importance of this cap for farmers and rural Ireland.  Sustainable farm incomes are already an issue without earning power being restricted from a diminishing farm size.

“The removal of uncapped liability on farm assets will help alleviate the worries of farmers and their loved ones and a cap will also function to allow farmers plan for the future with the full knowledge of the potential liability of their farm as an asset. This is extremely positive news for farmers. The proposed changes to the fair deal scheme will dramatically reduce the financial burden facing elderly people and their loved ones.

“The cap is subject to a transfer between family members who are actively participating and working in the business, as is currently the case for the ‘sudden illness clause’.”

“The Minister is still awaiting legal opinion from the Attorney General on the proposed changes before he can bring them before Cabinet for approval. The changes will require an amendment to the Nursing Home Support Scheme Act 2008.  I continue to monitor the progression of this policy so that it can be implemented as soon as possible”.