Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien will meet minister for older people Mary Butler today in a bid to allay concerns over a move to allow nursing home residents to retain 100% of rental income of their home.
The move by Government aims to free up more vacant homes for the rental market.
Ms Butler said she was disappointed she was not consulted about the proposal and the “unintended consequences” it may have and questioned whether it would actually increase the number of properties available for rent.
The Government announced plans on Wednesday to allow residents in nursing homes to keep 100% of the rental income from their homes under the scheme.
Residents can currently retain 60% of the income from renting out their homes with 40% going toward the cost of their care under the State’s €1.4bn-a-year scheme.
This was increased from 20% to 60% last November and has since resulted in 24 properties coming to the market.
Government sources have said although they think Ms Butler’s “surprise is genuine,” there was confusion over her comments given “there was always provision” to go further, as indicated in the memo that went to Cabinet last year.
“If the change incentivised 24 homes coming to the market since November, why isn’t it worth going further?” a Government source said.
Ms Butler said she wanted to ensure the measure would not lead to “premature entry into a nursing home” and said she hoped the measure would be delayed until a six-month review, due in April was carried out.
She said she would meet her party colleague and housing minister Darragh O’Brien on Wednesday, however, there was a “mix-up” and the two ministers were meeting on Thursday to discuss the matter.
Sage Advocacy, a support group for older people said it was concerned that older people and their care in nursing homes were being used “as a political football as part of the wider debate about freeing up houses in response to the ongoing housing crisis”.
A spokesperson for Mr O’Brien said his department will engage with Ms Butler as per the Government’s decision this week.
The move came following a meeting with the regional independent group and coalition figures to ensure they had their support to defeat a Sinn Féin motion to extend the eviction ban.
Independent TD Denis Naughten said that the group proposed to remove three “tax barriers” nursing home residents faced if they decide to lease out their home.