Fine Gael Senator Maura Hopkins has said that changes to the Fair Deal Scheme which will have a positive impact on farm families and those in business, are one step closer after being approved at cabinet on Tuesday last (June 11th).

Senator Hopkins stated, “I have been campaigning for the removal of discrimination against farm families and those in business for some time. It is very positive that cabinet has now approved the heads of a bill to implement these changes.”

“Under the Fair Deal Scheme, the cost of nursing home care is covered either in full or in part by the HSE. It allows the individual contribution payable to be deferred to a later stage.”

“At present, farm and business owners are required to pay 7.5% of the value of their land or business for each year spent in a nursing home. This position has made it difficult for many families to pass on their farms to the next generation.”

Senator Hopkins continued, “This contribution will now be capped at a maximum of three years. This will give farmland and business assets the same status as the family home.  These changes will have a very positive impact for families with farms or who are in business. These changes will ensure the future viability of many farms by allowing them to be passed on to close family members without an unsustainable debt burden. The primary condition is that the successor on the farm must give an undertaking to continue working the land for at least six years. I will continue to lobby on this six year commitment in order to ensure that it doesn’t place an unfair burden on farm families.”

Senator Hopkins concluded, “I want to acknowledge the role of the IFA, who have lobbied strongly on this issue over a number of years and, also the work of Minister Jim Daly in securing cabinet approval for these changes. I hope now that legislation to enact these changes can be progressed through the Oireachtas without delay.”