The safety of our elderly has once again been neglected by this Government with further cuts to the Seniors Alert Scheme for 2013 according to Independent TD Mattie McGrath. The Funding for the Seniors Alert Scheme for 2013 which is administered on the ground by voluntary Community Alert Groups has been more than halved from over €2.35 million euro in 2012 to €1.150 million this year. Changes have also been made to the qualifying conditions where funding will now only be provided to qualified persons over 65 who are living alone.
“These cuts will mean that an elderly couple will no longer be entitled to a monitored alarm simply because there is more than one person living in the home. This is outrageous. A couple in their 80’s are just as vulnerable as a single person and deserve protection. The Government seems to think that it is acceptable to ignore them because there are two of them, it’s appalling.” Said Deputy McGrath
Deputy McGrath claimed that funding for the scheme will not meet demand this year as demand for the scheme is increasing rapidly due to a lack of policing stemming from Garda Station Closures.
“Last year funding ran out in November, this year, funding has been halved and with more and more Garda Station Closures, demand will only rise this year as elderly people are living in fear so I can’t see funding lasting beyond June” said Deputy McGrath
Deputy McGrath also raised concerns that these cuts on top of the reduction of the telephone allowance in the Household Benefits Package could have dire consequences for the safety of the elderly.
“These monitored alarms are supplied and fitted by Community Alert Groups but the monitoring fee is paid for by the householder with the current fee ranging from €66- €80 per year which includes a 13% vat charge that the Government introduced last year. With the reduction in the telephone allowance, many elderly are now struggling to keep their telephones and without a telephone they cannot have a monitored alarm.”
“The Government are forgetting that all of the different cuts in Home Help and policing across the board are adding together to seriously diminish the safety of our elderly and they need to wake up as we owe it to our elderly to ensure that they are protected” Concluded McGrath