I will address that issue briefly. To my knowledge, there are plans for higher technology devices to come on stream. I need to confirm that but I recall that there were plans in that regard. The lot option for the forthcoming scheme in 2021 has been confirmed, along with the technical specifications for the telecoms equipment to be included. Work is ongoing at interdepartmental level to explore the potential amalgamation, in the medium term, of the senior alert scheme into broader assistive technology schemes operated by the Department of Health and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. There has, therefore, been some thinking on this issue, and it looks like there will be some sort of product at the end of it. There is definitely great potential in linking up with other technologies and other needs.
If the committee does not mind, I will go backwards and address the questions from Deputy Ó Cuív. I have been thinking about how to empower communities and give them a voice at a grassroots level and how that was done in the past. That was one of the first things I started thinking about when I got the job. I have also been talking to organisations about this matter and how it might be done.
We got new funding, albeit a small amount, of €1 million yesterday to start some pilot schemes next year with a view to growing this kind of approach again. I come from the sector and know how valued that approach was. I acknowledge that it has dissipated or diminished over time and in the past ten to 15 years especially. This is, therefore, a small measure being undertaken to try to restart that approach in a small way. Many good things have also happened in the same period, however, particularly concerning the social inclusion and community activation programme, SICAP. As I know it is not perfect, this is about finding spaces for it to develop.
I have been thinking about it and there will be something happening on it next year.
On the question relating to the Dormant Accounts Fund, I do not have all the figures that the Deputy asked for, but the 2020 action plan was approved with more than €45 million worth of measures included, €12.6 million of which rests with the Department of Rural and Community Development, and the remaining €32.4 million is spread across eight other Departments. I will look into getting other figures for the Deputy.
We obviously dipped into the Dormant Accounts Fund substantially this year for the stability fund, which I can talk about because I have some figures with me. The majority of the moneys have been disbursed. Approximately 560 organisations received grants from the fund. There is not a lot left and some applications are still under appeal. However, the good news on the stability fund is that an additional €10 million has been allocated to the fund in the budget, which is to be used before the end of this year. We are in the process of figuring out how best to use it, because we have to do it quickly and use it by the end of the year.
On the issue of Garda vetting raised by Deputy Donnelly, it goes into the broader issue of volunteering. I am pushing to bump up where volunteering sits in the national psyche and in the community voluntary sector. There is huge potential and a significant volume of good work is being done, but it needs a framework, direction and proper funding. Those things are happening, and I am glad that we will publish the first national volunteering strategy before the end of the year. Without revealing too much of its contents, there is an action included in respect of Garda vetting. The issue of Garda vetting is a problem not only for the volunteering sector. I know that it is also an issue for sporting organisations, and it can be frustrating to have to repeat the process of vetting, so there are wider issues to consider. However, in respect of volunteering, Garda vetting is on the list of issues that we need to address. The policy on volunteering will be coming out and there has been a significant increase in funding from €3.5 million to €5.1 million next year. This will allow us to finally open a volunteering centre in every local authority area. Currently eight areas do not have a centre. At the end of next year we should have a full national network of volunteering centres, which is crucial for many reasons. The evidence is that if people want to volunteer and can talk to a professional about it, they are much more likely to follow through rather than just send an email and hope something happens. If people sit down with someone in a volunteering centre to discuss the options and the support framework, they will be more likely to volunteer. It was one of the big positives that came out of yesterday's budget that I was glad to see. We will be able to put volunteering on a much more solid level and will ultimately develop a national volunteering corps.
Covid-19 really has shown the value of volunteering. Committee members will be well aware of this but people are still helping at Covid testing centres through volunteering, both informally and through volunteer centres. The ESRI is engaged in research which seeks to measure the value, reach and scope of the community call initiative, which continues at local authority level. All the local authorities are meeting this week because the country has moved to level 3. That research is trying to measure the value of community call and I will be interested to see what value we can take from it and what can continue, and how we can support that engagement from local organisations and volunteers to help people in their communities that need it most. I think that broadly covers most of the questions asked.