Fianna Fáil Environment Spokesperson Barry Cowen has demanded the immediate reversal of what he describes as an ‘extremely dangerous’ cut to funding for personal alarms for the elderly.
“This is arguably the most senseless and dangerous cut in Budget 2013. How can the Government justify putting the safety and security of elderly homeowners at risk as a wave of burglaries sweeps vulnerable communities nationwide?” asked Deputy Cowen.
“It is abundantly clear that we have a serious burglary problem in this country at the moment. Every single week we hear more stories of vulnerable households being targeted by criminal gangs in different communities, and more often than not the victims are older people and those living in rural and remote areas. This crime wave, coupled with the Government’s sustained attack on community garda resources, has left many older people feeling increasingly anxious in their homes.
“People are genuinely appalled that the Government’s response to all of this is not to address this escalating problem, but to compound it by halving the funding for personal alarms for older people. The Senior Alert Scheme has provided much needed comfort to older people not just for home safety reasons, but also in cases of medical emergencies. It has been their link to the emergency services when they most need it. And still, the Fine Gael and Labour coalition has seen fit to butcher the scheme, bringing funding from €2.5 million provided by the previous Government in 2011 to a paltry €1.1 million today.
“The savings from this savage cut are negligible in the overall context of the Budget. But there are enormous consequences for the health and well being of thousands of older people, particularly as the slash and burn of garda resources continues. I am calling on Minister Hogan to do the honourable thing and reverse this cut immediately.”
- The Senior Alert Scheme was established by the Fianna Fáil led Government in May 2010. It replaced the Scheme of Community Support for Older People.
- The original Scheme for Community Support for Older People distributed over €18m in grants to 1,189 community groups between 2004 and 2010. Around 10,000 older people benefitted each year.
- Since the Senior Alert Scheme was established in 2010, it has distributed over €5.4m to 785 community groups across the country
- In 2010, the annual funding provided for the scheme was €1.94 million. Fianna Fáil increased this in Budget 2011 to €2.47 million.
- The current Government has cut funding for the scheme in half, to €1.15million this year.