Pensioners to pay lower charge for care in shake-up of Fair Deal

 

Pensioners will receive a hike in their disposable income of around €25 a week under changes to the ‘Fair Deal’ scheme being considered by the Government.

The Irish Independent has learned a number of ministers are pressing for a reduction in the average nursing home cost for residents.

At present, a resident contributes 80pc of their income to nursing home costs.

Ministers want this reduced to 70pc – with the taxpayer picking up the other 30pc of the bill.

It is one of a number of sweeping changes due to be rolled out as part of October’s Budget.

Health Minister Simon Harris and Older People Minister Jim Daly are both understood to be in favour of reducing the cost to residents.

In a further development last night, sources confirmed Mr Daly has pinpointed 4,200 homes which could be vacated by nursing home patients in order to solve the housing crisis.

Ministers are now piling pressure on Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe to agree changes to Fair Deal.

Age Action’s Justin Moran described the amounts paid by the elderly as “unacceptable” and said he would welcome the proposed changes.

It is understood senior ministers agree and want to see an end to the situation where some pensioners are left with just €40 a week to spend as they please.

“The gap needs to be closed. Patients and their families are paying too much and it’s causing so much stress,” a senior Government source told the Irish Independent.

There has been friction in Government since Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy called for vacant houses owned by nursing home residents to be used to address the housing crisis.

Mr Daly has also said that he is currently looking at changes to the scheme to remove the disincentive for a nursing home resident to rent out or sell their home.

A Finance source confirmed changes in this regard are on the table in the context of the Budget.

Meanwhile, the Government has come under renewed pressure from farmers to overhaul the scheme in the interests of members.

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) hit out at what it described as the “slow progress” on changes to the Fair Deal.

One of the key demands made by the IFA is unlikely to be met because it is deemed too expensive by officials.

The proposal would result in 90pc of farm assets being exempted from consideration when it comes to nursing home bills.

The Government is, however, favourable to another key IFA demand, which is to reduce the period from five years to three in which the State can means-test farm assets before landing families with the bill to care for their elderly.

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