Older people with small land holdings unfairly penalised – Ó Caoláin
Speaking during a Dáil motion on the Fair Deal scheme, and specifically the extra burden that farm families and small business owners face, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Older People Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said that the current system disproportionality penalises those with small land holdings and that, in order to help ensure the future viability of the farming sector rules within the Nursing Home Support Scheme must be changed.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said;
“This motion focuses on the inadequacies of the Fair Deal Scheme for farm families and family owned businesses. This is an issue I have been acutely aware of for some time now.
“I’ve been lobbied and approached by families who feel, quite rightly, that it is unfair that they are being disproportionately penalised when accessing the Nursing Home Support Scheme because they had a small holding of farmland. IFA have also raised this vexed matter with me.
“At present, the cost of one’s care depends on their income and assets. An individual contributes 80% of their assessable income, and a maximum of 7.5% of the value of any assets per year towards the cost of care.
“The 7.5% per annum contribution applies for the duration of an individual’s stay in the nursing home save where a three year cap applies to the applicant’s principal residence.
“There is no doubt but that this is unfair and it is those with small land holdings that are impacted the most. There are approximately 140,000 family farms in Ireland with an average size of 32.7 hectares per holding.
“The Teagasc National Farm Survey shows that the average family farm income was €26,300 in 2015 and that farm family income varies considerably, with 70% of farms earning an income of less than €25,000. This motion states that the current financial assessment is not progressive, fundamentally unfair and has a disproportionate impact on low income farm families.
“I agree with the Survey results by Teagasc and it is for that reason that we will be supporting this motion which calls, among other things, for the commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government to remove discrimination against small businesses and family farms to be honoured”