Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Questions (512)

Catherine Martin

Question:

512. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Health the percentage of nursing homes support fair deal scheme income that accrues to the State; his plans to amend the scheme to ensure that more of the income accrues to the homeowner; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the financial terms of the scheme are leading to significant vacancy levels in the dwellings vacated by older persons and adding to the housing crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10062/18]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Nursing Homes Support Scheme (NHSS), commonly referred to as Fair Deal, is a system of financial support for people who require long-term residential care. Participants contribute to the cost of their care according to their means while the State pays the balance of the cost. The Scheme aims to ensure that long-term nursing home care is accessible and affordable for everyone and that people are cared for in the most appropriate settings.

Participants in the Scheme contribute up to 80% of their assessable income, such as their pension and a maximum of 7.5% per annum of the value of assets held, such as their principal private residence or cash assets. The first €36,000 of an individual’s assets is not counted at all in the financial assessment. The capital value of an individual’s principal private residence is only included in the financial assessment for the first three years of their time in care. This is known as the three year cap. No participant will pay more than the actual cost of care.

Under NHSS rental income is considered income for the purpose of the financial assessment, and is assessed at 80% less any allowable deductions. Allowable deductions include tax paid to Revenue and therefore any tax paid to Revenue should be deducted from the rental income. Other deductions include health expenses, payments required by law, rent payments and borrowings in respect of a person’s principal private residence.

Action 17 of the Strategy for the Rental Sector commits the Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government (DHPLG) to examine the treatment under the Nursing Homes Support Scheme's financial assessment of income from the rental of a person's principal private residence where they move into long term residential care.

The Department of Health will continue to work closely with the DHPLG on this matter and will consider suitable options that may assist with regard to the issue of vacant homes. However, in the consideration of any options, we must be mindful of the potential sensitivities around this issue for older people. It is important to remember that the transition into nursing home care can be a challenging time, including emotionally, and we must avoid adding distress to people in the consideration and development of options on this topic.