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.
The proposed policy change to the NHSS, to cap contributions based on farm and business assets at 3 years where a family successor commits to working the productive asset, has been approved by Government. The Department developed draft Heads of Bill while considering a number of complex ancillary policy and operational matters which may need to be addressed in the proposed legislation.
The stated policy objective of the general scheme of the Bill is to introduce further safeguards in the NHSS to further protect the viability and sustainability of family farms and businesses that will be passed down to the next generation of the family to continue to work them as productive assets to provide for them their livelihood.
The amendment of the scheme will bring certainty to the duration for which a contribution to the cost of care under NHSS will be levied against family farms and businesses. This in turn will support the viability of farms and businesses by increasing the likelihood of access to financing & promoting investment, which will encourage orderly succession planning with family members, encourage young farmers to remain farming and potentially encourage family members that had changed occupation or emigrated to return to the family farm.
The General Scheme of Bill for the Amendment to the NHSS was approved by Government on 11 June 2019 and subsequently published. The changes to the Scheme will come into effect as soon as the legislative process is successfully complete. The General Scheme was sent to the relevant Joint Committee and the Department participated in pre-legislative scrutiny on 13 November 2019. Engagement with the Office of the Attorney General began in early 2020 to progress the legislative development process.
This piece of legislation is a priority for the Minister and will be progressed as soon as possible, to support Farm Families and Businesses .
Further progress on the development of the Bill has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with focus entirely on responding to the challenges presented by COVID-19. The response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been and continues to be a national and public health priority.