Written Answers. - Security of the Elderly.

Michael Creed

Ceist:

397 Mr. Creed asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs if financial assistance towards the installation of burglar alarms for the elderly is provided by his Department; the way in which this scheme is administered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27586/01]

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.

Individuals who wish to obtain information on how they, or older people known to them, can obtain assistance under this scheme should con tact their local representative of any of the organisations involved in the scheme, such as, Muintir na Tíre, Neighbourhood Watch, Community Alert, or any other group involved in the scheme in their local area. I propose to advertise the scheme of community support for older people extensively in both the national and provincial press by the end of March 2002, at which time any voluntary or community-based organisation working with or providing support for vulnerable older people may submit applications for funding on their behalf.