Concern is mounting over the rising cost of funding the Fair Deal for nursing home care, as demand for the scheme soars.

According to today's Irish Independent, state spending on the scheme is expected to hit €1bn this year – and the HSE has acknowledged it is monitoring it on a “week-by-week basis”.

Over 23,200 people are  availing of the Fair Deal, which is above expectations, and its budget was increased by €24 m to €986m this year.

If Fair Deal exceeds its allocated budget, it is expected the Minister for Older People Jim Daly will be forced to seek emergency extra funding from the Department of Health.

Mr Daly said demand for the scheme was “outside of expectations in the year so far” and he has requested more data.

It comes as farmers take to the streets today, saying the lack of fairness in the scheme for them is costing them up to €40,000 a year in nursing home fees.

 IFA President Joe Healy will lead the protest at the Dept of Health this morning at 11am.

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