Thomas Pringle TD

Pringle says nursing home support scheme bill needs amending and clarity

Pringle says nursing home support scheme bill needs amending and clarity

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, said there needs to be more clarity around the nursing home support scheme bill, and raised issues of concern to farming families that need attention.

Deputy Pringle said: “We need to make sure this is done right. Often, when people are at the point where they are looking into this they are also dealing with the stress and upset of a loved one needing full-time care.”

Addressing the Dáil today on the Nursing Home Support Scheme (Amendment) Bill 2021, Deputy Pringle said: “I will support it. I will also try to amend it at committee stage.”

The deputy said the IFA has highlighted a number of issues, including the exclusion of some with leased land from the three-year cap.

Deputy Pringle said: “In County Donegal alone there are more than 32,000 hectares of leased land, according to CSO figures. This would mean that many families would not be able to avail of the three-year cap. The IFA was also calling for no reduction in the look back clause.

“The IFA was also concerned that some people will not meet the criteria for the three-year cap as had been outlined in the heads of bill. For example, the identified successor, usually a son or daughter, may have been working abroad and only return when a parent was in need of care. Such successors would not meet the criteria of having worked the business or farm a given amount of hours in three of the previous five years.”

The deputy said that despite the issue being raised last December, it seems that leased land is still excluded from availing of a three-year cap, and there has been no reduction in the five-year look back clause.

Deputy Pringle also said Donegal is one of the counties with the highest number of farmers receiving Farm Assist.

Deputy Pringle said: “They do not receive a credit as others do, such as those on Jobseekers payment. These credits are important as they are calculated for a contributory pension. The Donegal representative of the IFA acknowledges that there is the option to pay €500 annually but many cannot afford to do so. They say that is an inequity which needs to be addressed, and I agree.”

Donegal farming families have been in touch with Deputy Pringle about the lengthy and technical bill.

Deputy Pringle said: “I have been asking parliamentary questions for some time now about the progression of this bill as its provisions may impact a large number of my constituents.” He asked whether the Government will reconsider the issues he raised and said he will submit his own amendments to support the IFA.

Deputy Pringle concluded: “This whole area can be so confusing and distressing for people that I’m sure many other deputies regularly assist people and make representations for constituents who are trying to navigate their entitlements. I hope that there will be clear, accessible information, provided in a timely manner, to those who have been awaiting changes for many years.”