Thursday, 4 March 2004

Questions (150)

Richard Bruton

Question:

150 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the wide disparity in the charges made for alarm monitoring in respect of alarms that have been installed for persons whose health condition requires this service; if his attention has been further drawn the fact that the charges in some cases are resulting in elderly people not having any monitoring service on alarm systems that have been installed with public support; if he will make arrangements to negotiate a standard affordable rate for such monitoring to ensure that this preventive intervention is easily accessible to people regardless of income; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7316/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs)

The purpose of the scheme of community support for older people is to provide funding for initiatives to improve the security of vulnerable older people including personal alarm facilities.

The scheme is advertised annually in the national and provincial papers. Applications are invited from local groups to apply on behalf of the older people, people aged 65 and over, in their area. The applications are received and assessed by my Department. Once a group has satisfied all criteria under the scheme, it may be approved for up to 90% of the costs involved. The local group has responsibility for the purchase and installation of the equipment and each group is advised that responsibility for annual monitoring fees or maintenance fees associated with these systems are not covered under the scheme. It is a matter for the local groups to choose the security supplier which provides greatest value and which meets all the requirements of their clients. My Department is currently undertaking a review of the scheme rules and guidelines, prior to advertising the 2004 scheme in the coming months. The concerns expressed by the Deputy will be taken into account in that review.