18 JANUARY 2017

ICSA president Patrick Kent has called on the HSE to clarify statements made about farming families blocking hospital beds to circumvent aspects of the Fair Deal scheme. Commenting on the issue Mr Kent said “It is ludicrous to suggest that farmers are in some way significantly impacting on the availability of hospital beds. The HSE need to come out and say how many farm families they’re talking about as in our experience only a tiny percentage of farming families would be impacted by the two year rule they mention.”

Continuing Mr Kent said, “It’s shameful that the HSE would target farming families in this manner. Nonetheless, debate on the issue does serve to highlight just how brutal the scheme is. As it stands, the Fair Deal scheme is extremely unfair and unworkable for the vast majority of farmers and ICSA has been calling for changes to made to the scheme in relation to farm families as no scheme should have the effect of putting a farm out of business.

ICSA believes that the 7.5% assessment of assets on an annual basis is quite severe but that the key problem is that this is capped at 22.5% for principal residential assets but there is no cap for farmland. As there are very few farms generating enough income to build a fund to take care of nursing home costs over a prolonged period, likely scenarios mean the farm may have to be sold to pay the Fair Deal bill. This is going beyond the bounds of what is reasonable and needs to be addressed.”