Dáil Éireann - Volume 647 - 20 February, 2008

Written Answers. - Security of the Elderly.

Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the high cost to purchase personal alarms for senior citizens for emergency response and the annual fee for same; and if he will introduce a grant scheme to cover the initial set-up costs and annual fee charge. [7010/08]

  Deputy Pat Carey: Grants in respect of personal alarm systems are available for senior citizens as part of my Department’s ‘Scheme of Community Support for Older People’.

The funding available under the Scheme (maximum amounts) is as follows:

€300 in respect of the once-off cost of installing a socially monitored alarm system;

€200 in respect of physical security equipment;

€200 in respect of security lighting;

€50 in respect of smoke alarms;

€150 in respect of interior emergency lighting for qualifying older people on our offshore islands.

The Scheme is administered by local community and voluntary groups with the support of my Department. Individual applicants must be over 65 years of age and have a genuine need for the security equipment.

[1002] In the case of the alarm systems, the maximum grant provided is fixed at a realistic sum on the basis of grants sought and disbursed in the previous year by my Department. I understand that a number of the private commercial suppliers of socially monitored alarm systems quote prices of under €300 for the supply and installation of the equipment. The ongoing monitoring costs charged by the suppliers are approximately €80 per annum per individual and, given that the Scheme has benefited as many as 100,000 older people, the costs to my Department of providing funding for all such monitoring costs would be considerable.

It is my view that available resources are best directed towards continuing to fund the installation costs of personal alarms systems to those older members of the community in need of such assistance.