The objective of the new scheme of nursing home subventions, which I introduced last year, is to ensure that those most in need of care in a nursing home and without the means to pay for it receive assistance towards the cost. A health board may only assess a son or daughter's ability to contribute towards the cost of the nursing home fees of parent if the son or daughter is aged 21 years and over, is residing in the jurisdiction and possesses sufficient personal income according to the procedures laid out in the Nursing Homes (Subvention) Regulations, 1993.
Of the 3,136 subventions approved to the end of August 1994, health boards had made a reduction as a result of the son or daughter's ability to pay in 494 cases or one in six of the subventions approved. I believe that sons and daughters who are in a position to contribute towards the cost of a parent's nursing home fees should do so. The State recognises this contribution in the tax relief it gives on such payments.