Creed under pressure over Fair Deal Scheme

Spiralling nursing home costs placing financial headaches on farm families

Liam Cosgrove

Reporter:

Liam Cosgrove

Email:

liam.cosgrove@longfordleader.ie

Michael Creed

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD.

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed is coming under pressure to step in over heightened fears a growing number of farmers may be forced to sell assets in order to repay nursing home fees.

The appeal comes as IFA officials place renewed focus on the growing financial pressures facing farming households who are having to avail of the State’s Nursing Homes Support Scheme.

Otherwise known as the Fair Deal Scheme, the initiative is one which provides state financial support to people in need of nursing home care.

However, and due to the mounting financial costs associated to long term residential care, farmers may be forced to sell part of the farm assets to repay nursing home fees.

It has also led to increasing unease in some quarters that the children of farmers in need of nursing home care could be burdened with hefty bills after their death.

“It’s leaving people in a difficult situation, particularly those that are going to inherit the farm because they don’t know what actual costs they are going to have,” said Cllr Micheal Carrigy at last week’s county council meeting.

“These need to be addressed as it is undermining the farm as an institution because a lot of people just don’t know what costs may be coming down the line especially as a lot of the costs can be extremely high based on the value of the land.”

In December, the Government announced it was intent on introducing a three-year cap on contributions based on the value of the farm and business for the first time.

Under the current scheme, families pay a 7.5 per cent annual contribution on their principal residence for a maximum of three years.

However, the cap does not apply to farmland or business premises - meaning the financial burden facing farmers and business owners is much greater.

As a result of the agreement secured at the tail end of last year, Older People’s Minister Jim Daly said the same three-year cap would apply across the board.

Fianna Fáíl’s PJ Reilly said the financial obstacles confronting the offspring of farmers, many of whom are left to inherit the family farm, was making life more and more onerous for a growing portion of households.

“Farm incomes have gone down so much now that they cannot having to pay such a high amount,” he said.

“Your farm is only your tradesman’s tools and that’s all a farm is and it is very difficult to make ends meet on it.

Read Also:  Cap on Fair Deal contributions welcomed