How to make a fairer Fair Deal for elderly
Sir, – There has been a lot of discussion recently regarding vacant properties of nursing home residents in the context of the homeless crisis. Many of these residents are availing of the Fair Deal Scheme, which is an excellent scheme in many respects. However, as it is currently set up, I believe that the scheme disincentivises these residents from selling or renting out their homes.
The State applies a cap of 22 per cent (7.5 per cent over three years) on the value of the family home. There is no cap on their other chargeable assets such as cash and income, 80 per cent of which are applied to the cost of their care. Should the resident sell the family home, the proceeds will form part of the chargeable assets and no cap applies. Why would they do this?
Should they decide to rent the family home, the rental income is assessed similarly and they will pay 80 per cent of it towards the cost of their care. Again, why would they do this in these circumstances? A simple change to the scheme whereby the proceeds of the family home, when sold, would be ring-fenced and continue to receive the benefit of the 22 per cent cap would help to free up this property. There would be no loss to the State in this scenario. A similar change to the treatment of rental income would make the renting of these properties much more attractive.
It may not be a total solution to the entire problem but if it can give even a few families back some security and dignity, it’s worth looking at. – Yours, etc,