The Minister of State is very welcome. I thank her for taking time out of her busy schedule to be here this morning to discuss the nursing homes support scheme. Calls for the overhaul of the fair deal scheme have been made for a long time. Many people have been calling for a new scheme which would ease the crippling burden that is currently on small farm families and small businesses. As the Minister of State is aware, there is a 7.5% deduction of assets year on year, capped at three years, when it comes to a family home but, unfortunately, when it comes to a small farm or small business, no such cap exists. That is causing serious problems for many people. In effect, if someone were to spend ten years in a nursing home, 75% of the asset would have to be paid to the State at the relevant time. That is causing serious problems for many small farm families and many small businesses. Many family members may work on the farm or in the small business.
If, as is the case in some instances, the asset has to be sold to defray the costs, then those people have to move on, their livelihoods are gone and a farm or business that may have been in the family for years is lost. I know from the Minister of State's time in opposition that this issue was close to her heart and she was keen to see movement on it. I hope she will be the Minister of State who finally adjusts the scheme to make it fairer for small farm holdings and small business so that a similar three-year cap could be applied to those assets as is applied to the family home, which would make it more workable for those people.
This issue has been around for a long time and many people have campaigned to get the fair deal scheme adjusted to accommodate this, no more so than the farm organisations, who have done great work over the years. I would welcome the Minister of State's thoughts on that.
I also ask for her thoughts on a fair deal-type scheme for home support and home care packages for elderly people. Most people, if they had their wish, would like to live their days behind their own front door. That is not possible in some cases but if we had a properly beefed-up home care package, funded by way of a fair deal-type scheme, more people would be in a position to stay in their homes, with their families and in the communities they know and love so well for longer. I would welcome the Minister of State's thoughts on that issue as well.