The Nursing Home Support Scheme (NHSS), commonly referred to as 'Fair Deal', is a system of financial support for people who require long-term residential care. The primary legislation underpinning the NHSS is the Nursing Home Support Scheme Act 2009. Participants in the NHSS 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.
Under the NHSS, rental income is considered as ‘income’ for the purpose of a financial assessment of means and is currently assessed at 80% less any allowable deductions. Assets are assessed at 7.5% of their annual value for the duration of an individual participant’s time on the scheme, with the exception of the principal private residence, which is only assessed for the first three years.
The current Programme for Government, Our Shared Future, commits to “reforming the Fair Deal scheme to incentivise the renting out of vacant properties”. My Department is currently engaging with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage on how to take this forward.
However, there are significant complexities in relation to any changes being made to the NHSS, particularly with regard to ensuring the ongoing fair, equitable, and sustainable operation of the scheme. My Department must also be sure that any change delivers a genuine impact and offers value for money. On this basis, all competing interests and relevant issues must be fully considered.
My department is liaising closely with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage to develop an evidence base around the issue and consider potential policy measures.