My Department has, since 1996, continued to operate the scheme of community support for older people, the purpose of which is to improve the security and social support of vulnerable older people. This funding is provided by way of grant aid to voluntary groups and organisations who have undertaken to identify those elderly people in need of assistance under the scheme.
Since I came to office in mid-1997 I have allocated a total of £13 million to this scheme which allowed some 53,000 individuals to receive assistance under the scheme. I am anxious to ensure that this scheme continues to address the security needs of the most vulnerable older people in our society and accordingly a sum of £5 million has been provided for this scheme in my Department's estimates for 2000.
I propose to have advertised the scheme in both the national and provincial press by mid-March, at which time any voluntary or community-based organisation working with or providing support for vulnerable older people may submit applications for funding.