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, £22 million has been allocated to the scheme, which to the end of 2000 has assisted some 80,482 individuals.
Under the terms of the scheme, grant aid is available towards the purchase and/or installation 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.
Funding is not available under the scheme for conventional intruder/burglar alarms of the type indicated in the Deputy's question.
To qualify for assistance under the scheme, older people, aged 65 or over, must be living alone or be living in households made up exclusively of older people, or of older people who are dependent and vulnerable and be unable to install or purchase the equipment covered by the scheme themselves.
While the grant available may vary in the light of individual circumstances, grants in general will cover 50% of total costs but grants up to 90% may be made where the circumstances so warrant.