People in Northern Ireland are more than £21.3million better off as a result of work by the Department for Communities to help people to claim the social security benefits they are entitled to.
The £21.3million additional benefits represents the largest ever amount generated in a single year since this work began in 2005 and means the household income of 4,810 people across the country increased by an average £85 per week.
The findings form part of the 2016/17 report on the Department’s ‘Benefit Uptake Programme’, which aims to reach people in our society who have been missing out on the benefits they were entitled to and should have been receiving.
Joan O’Hara, Head of the Department’s ‘Make the Call’ Team explained: “The welfare system exists to support people during uncertain times. However, through our benefit uptake work we know that people don’t always realise what that can mean for their benefit entitlement and continue to struggle without the support they are entitled to. Major life changes like taking on caring responsibilities, illness or disability, retirement or bereavement can all mean people may become entitled to a range of different benefits. Through this work we are actively reaching thousands of people each year and every pound generated is improving someone’s life.”
The Department provides a dedicated telephone line providing free and confidential advice about benefits and other Government supports such as the Blue Badge scheme and help with dental treatment and eye tests.
The service is promoted through mailings, advertising, information events, and working in partnership with a range of statutory and voluntary & community sector partners. In addition Community Outreach workers are located across Northern Ireland to provide face to face advice and assistance to vulnerable customers through home visits.
More advice on checking all your potential entitlements is available by ringing the ‘Make the Call’ Advice Line number on 0800 232 1271, or online at nidirect.
Notes to editors:
- The Department’s latest three year plan entitled ‘Supporting People – Maximising Income through the Uptake of Benefits’ was launched in September 2016 and aims to secure at least £40m in additional benefits by 2019. The 2016/17 outcomes are as a result of the activities undertaken in year 1 of the plan, and show significant progress towards achieving this target.
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