Since 1996 my Department has operated the scheme of community support for older people, the purpose of which is to provide funding for initiatives to improve the security and social support for vulnerable older people. This funding is provided by way of grant to voluntary groups and organisations who have undertaken to identify those elderly people in need of assistance under the scheme.
The maximum grant available under this scheme is 90 per cent of the cost and grants are provided only towards the once-off cost of the purchase and/or installation of the necessary equipment. The actual amount of the grant varies in the light of individual circumstances and needs and the overall demands which must be met.
I am anxious to ensure that this scheme addresses the security needs of the most vulnerable people and that it provides this assistance in the most efficient and effective way possible. In this regard my Department has, in consultation with the Departments of Finance and Health and Children, commissioned an independent review of the scheme which will consider how the scheme is meeting its objectives and whether it is doing so in the most efficient and effective way possible. The final report from the consultants will be available shortly and the future operation of the scheme will be determined in the light of the outcome of this review.