Written Answers. - Care of the Elderly.

John Perry

Question:

83 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Finance if the Government will avoid cutbacks in the budget in respect of older persons and if he will ensure that no adverse living standards are imposed on them; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the longer older people stay well and healthy the better their chances of continued independent living in the community thus reducing the number in residential care facilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22041/02]

I note the views expressed by the Deputy and I am aware of the considerations raised. However, it is not the practice for the Minister for Finance to disclose the contents of his budget in advance of his statement to the House on budget day.

Since 1997 the maximum old age contributory rate has increased by 49% and the non-contributory rate by 56%. In 1997 aggregate expenditure on old age pensions amounted to around €1.3 billion and in 2002 expenditure is estimated to amount to €2.2 billion. Spending on health services for older people has also significantly increased over the same period. Allocations to the nursing home subvention scheme have increased from €49 million to €122 million, while those for the home nursing service, the home help service and the meals-on-wheels service have increased from €47 million, €17 million and €4 million to €76 million, €96 million and €8 million, respectively.