Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said that commitments given by the Minister of State at the Department of Health, Helen McEntee, to remove all discriminatory aspects of how the Fair Deal Nursing Home Support Scheme is applied to farming families and the self-employed must be kept regardless of any changes in government.
Deputy McGrath was speaking after a Dáil debate on a motion brought forward by the Rural Independent Group called for immediate and urgent reform of the how the Scheme currently operates:
“I and my colleagues in the Rural Independent Group brought forward this Motion because of the massive levels of uncertainty and anxiety that it is creating for farm families and the self-employed.
We believe that the current financial assessment for the Fair Deal Scheme is not progressive, that it is fundamentally unfair and that it has a disproportionate impact on low income farm families.
What we want to avoid is the dilution of the farm or work assets to such an extent that the farm becomes non-viable for future generations.
During our motion debate Minister McEntee explicitly accepted that the Scheme is indeed discriminatory and that it cannot continue without significant reform.
She has also committed to dealing with this issue in the context of Budget of 2018.
While we believe that the issue should have been addressed long before now, we accept the bona fides of Minister McEntee’s commitment to this issue, a commitment that we want to see ring-fenced and implemented regardless of any leadership changes in the Fine Gael party.
This matter goes to the heart of a sustainable and just rural economy.
Farm families and the self-employed deserve nothing less than complete parity of esteem and fair treatment when it comes to sourcing and financing their nursing home support,” concluded Deputy McGrath.