Elections 2019 - Europe

Candidate slams government's failure to make Fair Deal scheme changes

Staff Reporter

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Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan and European Parliament candidate for Midlands-North-West Brendan Smith has highlighted the government’s failure to bring changes to the Fair Deal scheme which would see alterations to support farming families who have a family member in the scheme. 

Deputy Smith explained: “The government made grand announcements that they would amend the Fair Deal legislation to support farm families. Proposed changes would have brought in a Bill to cap farm contributions from farm assets at three years, if a family member is continuing to work on the farm.

“Despite these commitments the Heads of Bill have still not been published. The farming community across the North West and Border region remain in doubt. This delay is unacceptable and will mean that farm families across the country are losing out on the benefits of this scheme."

Deputy Smith said this has long been an issue for farmers and said the scheme needs to be altered to allow older farmers to get access to the care they require. 

“This has been a bug-bear for farming families for years, and these changes are desperately needed to make the scheme fairer and to ensure that older farmers can access the care they need.

“Farmers spending a considerable amount of time in a nursing home could lose significant portions of their farm due to the 7.5% contribution charge on assets. This is currently applied on a yearly basis with no upper limit in place.

“The government must cap this at three years to support farmers and their families. It should be prioritised by government. The farming community is struggling as it is. We should be providing every support possible however the government do not appear to appreciate the severity of this situation on a daily basis for families,” concluded Deputy Smith.