Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Questions (596)

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

596. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health if an assessment has been carried out on the number of homes left empty due to the effect the sale of those homes would have on the qualification of the owner for the fair deal scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18641/19]

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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.

The Scheme has no restrictions in place in relation to the sale of a home. However, if a participant in the Scheme were to sell an asset, such as a home, after their first financial assessment the proceeds of the sale would therefore become a cash asset. The three-year cap will then no longer apply and the participant must pay a contribution of 7.5% based on this cash asset.

A participant in the scheme can request a financial review if 12 months have passed since their initial review. However, the HSE may review a financial assessment at any stage.

Under the NHSS rental income is considered income for the purpose of the financial assessment of means and is assessed at 80% less any allowable deductions.

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 is currently engaging with the DHPLG in this regard to examine the policy and legal implications on this issue. Any changes to the treatment of rental income under the Scheme require careful policy analysis and consideration and if changes were to be proposed primary legislation would be required to give effect to them. An analysis of the number, type and location of vacant homes arising from their owners entering long term care supported by the NHSS will form part of this collaborative work between the respective Departments. Work will continue on this area throughout 2019.