MPs back legislation giving care homes land tax relief
Legislation to give payroll tax relief for care homes has been backed by MPs.
David Burt, the Premier and Minister of Finance, said that Westmeath and Lefroy House already receive relief, but the Land Valuation and Tax Amendment Act would allow all of the island’s registered nursing homes and residential care homes to be exempt from land tax.
Mr Burt told the House of Assembly on Friday that the legislation would fulfil a pledge in the PLP’s 2020 election platform and provide a combined $66,000 in relief to 12 facilities.
However, he said the Government was aware that more work was required to protect the island’s care homes.
Mr Burt added: “Like many other businesses, residential care homes and nursing homes continue to face significant challenges brought on by the ongoing and continuing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“These facilities continue to provide essential services to the community, and so it is imperative to identify viable options of relief that will help to alleviate the pressure these facilities now face.”
Mr Burt said the Cabinet had last week approved an additional grant boost to nursing homes that already received grants from the Ministry of Social Development and Seniors to “stabilise” their finances.
He added that the Cabinet had also called on the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Social Development and Seniors to update its long-term care plan to make sure that the island’s care homes were on “solid financial ground” in the future.
“As our population ages, we must do all that we can to ensure that our seniors can live in dignity,” Mr Burt said.
The Premier further pledged that the Government would soon bring to the House a pension increase order to support the island’s seniors.
Susan Jackson, of the One Bermuda Alliance, said she was happy to have the updates from the Premier given the hard blow that Covid-19 had dealt care homes.
She highlighted the high cost of payroll at care facilities and noted that during the pandemic, homes would have to cover the cost of sick leave for multiple staff and replacement staff for the same period.
Ms Jackson said: “The rest homes, seniors homes and nursing homes are part of a system that cannot fail.
“We have to make it work because the only other backstop for this is the hospital.”
Ianthia Simmons-Wade, a Progressive Labour Party backbencher and chairwoman of the Ageing Well Committee, urged people to start planning financially for their retirement in case funds were needed for a nursing home.
Ms Simmons-Wade added that “an apartment and a pension" might not be enough "if you don't age well".