Security for older citizens must not be the subject of stealth cuts
I have demanded that the Department
of the Environment, Community and Local Government reverse cuts to the
Senior Alert Scheme.
I was very concerned to be informed by community groups working with
older people that the Senior Alert Scheme is to be cut.
Community groups and older people are shocked that there
will no longer be grants available for security lights, smoke alarms
and carbon monoxide detectors.
The cutbacks also mean that groups will have a €30,000 grant ceiling
under the scheme. I understand that community groups were only
informed of the cutbacks on Tuesday 27th / Wednesday 28th March, and
they were told that these cutbacks would come into effect from Friday
30th March. They were only given only 3 days’ notice.
I have raised this matter directly with the Minister for Environment,
Community and Local Government. These cuts, which are an absolute scandal, will have a
serious negative impact on older people, and must be reversed.
I have included below a response from a parliamentary question which I submitted to Minister for the Environment.
Question No. 900
Chun an Aire Comhshaoil, Pobail agus Rialtais Áitiúil:
To the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government:
To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if
he will confirm that he has cut the senior alert scheme grants for
security lights, smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors; if he will
confirm that the cutbacks also stated that groups will have a €30,000
grant ceiling under the scheme; if he will confirm that community groups
were only informed of the cutback last Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 March
that these cutbacks would come into effect from Friday 30 March, giving
only three days’ notice; if he will urgently review this decision with a
view to reversing these cutbacks;; and if he will make a statement on the
- Patrick Nulty.
For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 18th April, 2012.
Ref No: 19057/12
Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Mr. P.
My Department manages the Seniors Alert Scheme which encourages and
assists the community’s support for older people by means of a
community-based grant scheme to improve the security of people over 65
years of age.
The Scheme is administered by local community and voluntary groups with
the support of my Department.
In 2011, grant support was available towards the purchase and installation
of personal monitored alert systems (pendant alarms) and other items to
improve the safety and security of the home (including monitored smoke and
carbon monoxide detectors, internal emergency lighting and external
Due to unprecedented demand for grant assistance under the Seniors Alert
Scheme in 2011, the budget allocation of €2.35m was expended by the end of
November 2011; there were a significant number of grant applications
received in December 2011 that the Seniors Alert Unit was unable to
grant-aid until the receipt of the budget allocation for 2012.
A significant portion of the 2012 budget allocation (€2.35m) was spent
early in 2012 as a result of this unprecedented demand. The Seniors Alert
Unit is also continually registering Community and Voluntary groups who
wish to administer the Scheme and this will further increase the demand
for funding in 2012.
As a result, my Department examined the operation of the scheme with the
aim of ensuring its sustainability and an equitable distribution of
funding country-wide. The following temporary changes were notified to
groups on 26 March 2012, and took effect from 30 March 2012:
• Funding will only be available for the purchase & installation of
socially monitored alarms at a maximum of €250 per alarm (Maximum funding
of €50 is also available for additional pendants & reinstallations).
• Grants to Community and Voluntary groups will be capped at €30,000
The aim of the Seniors Alert Scheme is to support independent living for
those over 65 who live alone or who live with a person who is also over 65
years of age and of limited financial means. A key element of the Scheme
is the provision of funding for a socially monitored alarm which supports
this independence. Having regard to available funding in the current
economic climate, the changes above will ensure that my Department can
continue to maintain the Scheme in a viable way and provide the maximum
number of socially monitored alarms to as many older persons as possible
The temporary changes made under the Scheme will be monitored on an
on-going basis and may be revised later in the year in light of the
overall demand for funding relative to the budget allocation for 2012.