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Concerns about Proposed Amendments to the Fair Deal Scheme in Relation to Rental Income

Published 10/05/2022


(10 May 2022) Age Action will address the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage on Planning: on the Provision of housing for older people, including Fair Deal on 10 May, where they will advocate for a package of safeguarding measures to be put in place to protect older people living in nursing homes as well as reforms to allow 100% of rental income on the person's primary residence to be disregarded by the HSE under the Nursing Home Support Scheme (Fair Deal).

Unmet Housing Need

Age Action’s core concern is for all older persons to have choice and control over where and how they live. Planning, housing standards and housing supports all play a huge role in determining people’s quality of life as they age.  Age Action advocates for a rights-based approach to housing and planning that is built around the core aim of empowering people to age in place and to access all of the shops and services they need to live independently. A right to adequate housing is not just about general principles but also active measures to address the needs of those furthest behind, and to ensure equality of outcome. 

In remarks to the Committee Age Action listed 5 areas of unmet need in the context of the provision of older persons housing;

  1. Barriers to older people ageing in place including lack of physical accessibility around the home, lack of transport (especially if people lose the ability to drive), and problems securing home care support.
  2. Lack of access to credit by older persons who wish to 'right size'
  3. The lack of suitable housing available within the community to facilitate a person 'right sizing'
  4. Excessive costs of maintaing the home including retroftting and adaptation
  5. Inability to afford housing at current market rates.

Fair Deal Reform

Age Action welcomes efforts to reform the Fair Deal scheme and wishes to support measures that address inequalities experienced by older people. However, Age Action will tell the Committee that it has concerns about the the proposal to reduce to 40% the proportion of rental income from a person’s primary residence that must be paid to the HSE when they are in nursing home care funded under scheme. 

Age Action will raise potential safeguarding issues and question whether or not the requirement to give the HSE 40% of the rental income is a sufficient mitigating factor. Age Action is also concerned that requiring 40% of the rental income to be paid to the HSE puts unfair limits on residents of nursing homes who may wish to become landlords compared to other landlords in the market. 

Age Action is calling for a package of safeguarding measures to be in place before the implementation of changes to the Fair Deal Scheme including:

  • Full commencement of the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015, and the enactment of the proposed amendment of 2022.
  • Fully operational Decision Support Service
  • Enactment of Adult Safeguarding Legislation
  • Expansion of the legal concept of coercive control beyond intimate relationships to include the coercive control of another person as a crime in any close adult relationship or setting.

In addition, Age Action strongly supports efforts to accelerate the statutory homecare scheme so that a greater number of older persons would have the option of remaining in their homes for longer, which is almost always their preference and will. 


Age Action Awarded Investing In Volunteers National Quality Standard

Age Action is delighted to announce that we have been awarded the Investing in Volunteers quality standard. Investing in Volunteers (IiV) is the national quality standard for good practice in volunteer management in Ireland.

The Investing in Volunteers standard assesses the organisation’s volunteering programme in six areas: vision for volunteering, planning for volunteers, volunteer inclusion, recruiting and welcoming volunteers, supporting volunteers, and valuing and developing volunteers. As part of the process, we completed a self-assessment of our volunteering programme, and with the assistance of an Investing in Volunteers mentor, we then put together an improvement plan. Over the course of the assessment forty of our volunteers were interviewed as well as staff and board members.

Every year, hundreds of people volunteer with Age Action in our Getting Started digital literacy programme, and with our Care and Repair DIY Service. We would like to thank all of our wonderful volunteers who bring their time, energy and skills to Age Action and are the reason that our volunteering programme is so impactful. Volunteers are at the heart of our programmes and services at Age Action and without our volunteers we couldn’t fulfil our mission to support older people to live full and independent lives. Achieving the Investing in Volunteers quality standard shows our commitment to providing an experience that reflects how much we value our volunteers.

Here’s what some of our Volunteers said as part of the process:

‘I’ve gained a lot of skills from volunteering.  It has built my confidence in teamworking and communication.’

‘It keeps me active being able to help people and improve their quality of life’. 

‘I think they’ve got it just right with the amount of information to keep you in touch.  The monthly newsletter let’s you see what’s going on”.

“Emails keep you informed.  They are very willing to take suggestions on board, they encourage you to give them feedback’.

Going through the Investing in Volunteers process has helped us to review and improve our volunteering programme in its entirety, from how we recruit, train and support volunteers, to how we communicate with and involve our volunteers at all levels of the organisation. As we celebrate achieving the standard, we reiterate our commitment to providing the best possible volunteering experience for our volunteers who make an incredible difference in the lives of those older people we serve.