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 aid to voluntary groups and organisations who have undertaken to identify those elderly people in need of assistance under the scheme.
Since its commencement, a total of £22 million has been allocated to the scheme, which to the end of 2000 has assisted some 80,482 individuals. I am anxious to ensure that this scheme continues to address the security needs of the most vulnerable older people in our society.
Grant aid is available towards the cost of: 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 alarm system which is operated via the telephone and is worn around the neck or wrist.
Under the terms of the scheme a maximum of 90% of the once-off costs, inclusive of VAT, associated with the purchase and/or installation of this type of equipment can be funded. Annual monitoring fees or maintenance fees associated with these systems are not provided for under the scheme. While the maximum grant available under this scheme is 90% of the total cost, it is not possible to guarantee this level of funding in respect of all applications received under the scheme. Priority in allocating the available funds will be given to the most vulnerable older people. The actual amount of the grant will vary in the light of individual circumstances and needs and the overall demands, which must be met. A review of the scheme was completed in April 1999 and any plans to amend the scheme will be considered in a budgetary context.