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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 30 Jun 1999

Vol. 507 No. 3

Written Answers. - Security of the Elderly.

Gay Mitchell


165 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs if the rate of grant for security schemes for the elderly including monitoring alarms will be 90 per cent in 1999 for an area (details supplied) in Dublin 10. [16845/99]

My Department has, since 1996, 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 of vulnerable older people. This funding is provided by way of grant to voluntary groups and organisations such as St. Vincent de Paul, Neighbourhood watch and community alert who have undertaken to identify those elderly people in need of assistance under the scheme.

Under the scheme grants are available for small-scale physical security equipment such as strengthening of doors and windows, window locks, door chains and locks and security lighting; and socially-monitored alarm systems, (such as the pendant or button alarm system which is operated via the telephone and is worn around the wrist or neck). When this Government came into office in June 1997, the multi-annual budgets for the years 1997, 1998 and 1999 for this scheme had been set by the previous Rainbow Government at £2 million in each year. In 1997, I requested the Government to increase this £2 million for that year by £3 million to £5 million and that was agreed. Having reviewed the level of demand under the scheme last year I sought and obtained Government approval for the allocation of an additional £3 million to the scheme, bringing the total allocation in 1998 to £5 million.

Since its inception in 1996 a total of £12.6 million has been made available for this scheme and up to the end of 1998 some 56,000 people had been assisted by the scheme. This means that since I came into office, this Government has spent £10 million on this scheme as opposed to £2 million spent by the previous Government.

Taking account of the demand that has existed in relation to the scheme in previous years, a total of £5 million again has been allocated by the Government to the scheme for 1999. On the basis of 1997 and 1998 experience, it is anticipated that in excess of 21,000 people will benefit under the scheme this year, making a total of approximately 77,000 since the scheme started.

Applications under the 1999 scheme were invited recently from voluntary organisations and community groups. As the closing date for receipt of applications is 16 July 1999, it is not yet possible to determine the level of demand this year. However, the scheme will operate precisely as it has done in previous years i.e. the percentage of the amount sought to be covered by the grant actually allocated will continue to vary depending on the degree of need and the overall number of worthwhile applications to be funded. In general, grants will range upwards of 50 per cent of the cost of the purchase and/or installation of necessary security equipment. While grants of up to 90 per cent of the total cost may, however, be considered where individual circumstances and needs so warrant and in the light of the overall demands which must be met, it is important to note that not all applications received in previous years were funded at a level of 90 per cent. It is therefore not possible to guarantee a particular percentage of funding for individual applications across the board.