Fianna Fáil TD for Carlow – Kilkenny Bobby Aylward says the recent changes announced for farmers under the Fair Deal scheme are a step in the right direction.

Deputy Aylward has previously called on the Government and Director General of the HSE to implement changes to the Fair Deal Scheme to ensure farmers and farm families are treated fairly.

Deputy Aylward said, “Under the current rules, if a person from a farming background survives ten years in a nursing home then they could lose over 70% of their farm. This issue arises as the 7.5% contribution charge on assets is applied on a yearly basis with no cap in place. Family farms typically pass from generation to generation and the current legislation is discriminatory toward farming families as it can force a situation by which the incumbent generation must sell the family farm to cover nursing home costs thus putting an end to generational farming traditions and removes viable rural business from our rural communities.

“Fianna Fáil has been pushing for changes to the Fair Deal Scheme to ensure farmers and their families are treated fairly. As a member of the Pubic Accounts Committee I raised this issue directly with former HSE Director General Tony O’Brien and senior officials in the Department of Health. Thankfully, the changes recently proposed will go a long with in alleviating the hardship placed on farmers who find themselves in this position, and their families. The proposal of a three year cap will ensure parity and put an end to the discrimination against farmers within this system.

“I have serious reservations with the requirement that in order to receive the three year cap, an applicant must have their farm farmed by a close relative. This could cause issues for single and elderly farmers and it’s important that they are also treated fairly. I will work with my Fianna Fáil colleagues for changes on this.

“The Government also needs to ensure that these proposed changes are implemented without delay. This has been a long-running issue and the time for Government action is long overdue,” concluded Deputy Aylward.