Fianna Fail Spokesperson on Active Ageing Senator Mary White has expressed her outrage at the government’s cruel cut to funding for the Senior Alert Scheme. Senator White has called on the Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan to immediately reverse his 55% cut to what she describes as a ‘life-saving’ initiative.

According to Senator White, this is just the latest cut in a sustained attack on the most vulnerable people.

“This incredibly cruel cut must be reversed immediately,” said Senator White.

“The Senior Alert Scheme was established by the previous Government in 2010 and has provided great support and comfort to thousands of older people.  This initiative, along with its predecessor Community Support for Older People, has allowed older people to stay longer in their homes by providing them with direct access to emergency services in cases of home security risks or medical emergencies.

“I am appalled that the Government would even consider slashing this scheme at a time of increasing rates of burglaries and attacks against the elderly.  We have heard horrific stories of older people being targeted by criminals in their homes in communities from Kerry to Mayo, and Dublin to Donegal.  In my view the Senior Alert Scheme is more important than ever in the context of the Government continues to shut down local garda stations and cut garda numbers.

“Elderly couples will be hit hardest by these cuts. A spouse who is living with and caring for a dependent loved one will no longer qualify for the scheme, as they are not deemed to be living alone.

“In the Fianna Fail strategy ‘Active Ageing & Quality Caring’ published last year, I recommended that ‘all persons over the age of 66 should have access to a personal alarm scheme to protect them against raiders and provide security in the case of a medical emergency.  But instead of providing this much needed support, the Government has gone in the other direction and has cut existing supports beyond recognition.

“This cut comes on top of cuts to the Fuel Allowance, Household Benefits package and new property taxes which will affect the fixed income of older people. It will further increase the sense of social isolation and adds to growing concerns about mental health issues among the elderly.  It is clear that the Government is not taking these problems seriously and is not prioritising the well being of the older generation.”