Dáil Éireann - Volume 555 - 10 October, 2002

Written Answers. - Emigrant Services.

  266. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government the level of State support available through the capital assist[286] ance scheme for the safe home programme whereby elderly Irish emigrants living abroad would be assisted to move home; the number of persons who have benefited from this scheme in 2001 and 2002; his views on the operation of the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17651/02]

  Minister of State at the Department of the Environment and Local Government (Mr. N. Ahern): My Department amended the terms of the voluntary housing capital assistance scheme in November 2001 to provide that up to 25% of accommodation in new projects undertaken by approved voluntary housing bodies under the scheme may be allocated to elderly emigrants returning to this country who satisfy eligibility criteria drawn up in connection with the safe home programme.

  Under the terms of the scheme funding up to 95% of the approved cost of a project is made available to approved bodies undertaking a project. Units of accommodation made available to returning emigrants under the scheme are funded on the same basis as accommodation made available to categories other than emigrants.

  It is a matter for the relevant voluntary housing body to select suitable candidates from the safe home waiting list in consultation with safe home and the housing authority concerned. A system for monitoring of the scheme has recently been put in place by my Department under which local authorities are required to furnish information on a quarterly basis on the number of units of accommodation allocated to elderly returning emigrants under the scheme. The first returns under this monitoring system are not yet available to my Department.