Concerns have been raised by Independent TD Denis Naughten that changes to the fair deal Nursing Home Support Scheme could be open to legal challenges unless the scheme is backdated.
Farm families have been waiting for the much anticipated changes which will see a three-year cap put on the cost of their contributions to the care of a farmer in a nursing home.
Currently, the annual 7.5% charge based on the value of a farm for a farmer in full-time care is open-ended and means the family farm would be lost to the next generation after 14 years.
Changes have been largely welcomed, but Deputy Naughten has pointed out that a Government decision was made on this on 24 July 2018, which is when the scheme should be backdated to.
“Under the new law older people who transferred the family farm and entitlements to a successor prior to entering a nursing home will have to do so again under the changes brought about by the reform of the Nursing Home Support Scheme currently going through the Dáil.
"This is in order to avail of the three year means assessment cap for the farm,” said Denis Naughten.
He said backdating the scheme would avoid any possible legal challenges
“As a result, we are now placing a legal obligation on an older person to transfer an asset that was not in their name when they went into the nursing home, in order to avail of the three years on the means assessment.”
He said backdating the scheme would avoid any possible legal challenges.
“From that date, the Government decision has been taken not to charge older people for working assets beyond the three year period, and therefore no charges should apply to farm or business assets for those who had already paid the three years contribution up to that date or who reached that three year anniversary from July 2018 until the law is enacted,” he said.
The changes are due to go through the final stages of the Dáil this week.