Government Approves General Scheme of a Bill – Treatment of Family Farms and Business Assets under Fair Deal
The Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD and the Minister of State with special responsibility for Mental Health and Older People, Jim Daly TD, are pleased to announce that the Government has approved a General Scheme of a Bill intended to change the treatment of family farms and businesses under the Nursing Homes Support Scheme, also known as the Fair Deal.
A review of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme, published in 2015, committed to reviewing how productive assets are treated under the scheme. The Programme for a Partnership Government committed to remove discrimination against small business and family farms under the scheme. Last year Government approved a policy proposal recommend by the Ministers to change how such assets are treated under the Scheme. The Government has now approved a General Scheme of a Bill to give effect to that policy decision and has approved the drafting of the legislation in accordance with the General Scheme.
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. 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.”
Minister Daly said “This agreement from Government is a big step towards reducing the stress and uncertainty experienced by family farm and small business owners and their future generations, helping to keep the family farm and business running and contributing to local communities.”
People using the scheme contribute up to 80% of their income and up to 7.5% of the value of any assets held towards their cost of care. The value of a person’s home is only included in the financial assessment for the first three years of their time in a care.
The decision today is to extend this 3-year cap to farms and businesses where a family successor continues to operate the farm or business for six years. 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, as the law currently stands and will continue to stand, 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 5 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.