Written Answers. - Value Added Tax.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

286 Mr. Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance his views on whether the rate of VAT on security items is in many cases causing hardship in respect of the provision and distribution of security alarms for old people through the community alert network; and if he will consider a review. [8046/01]

As regards the VAT charge on the installation and operation of security systems, EU VAT law, with which Irish VAT law must comply, requires that VAT apply to the supply of these goods and services regardless of the status of the user of the service. It is not, therefore, open to me to remove VAT from the installation or maintenance charges for alarms for senior citizens. There is, however, the Value Added Tax (Refund of Tax) (No. 15) Order, 1981, administered by the Revenue Commissioners, which provides for refunds of VAT in respect of certain goods for use by disabled people. Under this order, it is possible to obtain a refund of VAT on the purchase of personal alarms by or on behalf of a disabled or elderly person, normally used as medical alert systems and which are triggered by a pendant worn by the person concerned.

The Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs operates a 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 elderly people in the community. This scheme was established in 1996 on foot of the recommendations of the task force on security for the elderly.

Under the scheme, grants may be provided through voluntary organisations dealing with the elderly for small scale physical equipment such as strengthening of doors and windows, window locks, door chains and locks, security lighting and socially monitored alarm systems. Funding is not provided for conventional burglar-intruder alarms. The amount of funding provided for under the scheme since its inception is £22 million, to end 2000, and it has assisted some 80,842 individuals.
Given the measures available under the relevant refund order and the community support scheme, I am of the view that significant efforts are being made to enhance the security of older people.