Almost £18million in additional annual benefits have been generated for 4,433 people in Northern Ireland who had previously not been claiming them, Communities Minister Paul Givan has announced.
These latest figures, for the 2015/16 financial year, relate to Make the Call (MtC) work by the Department for Communities. This aims to ensure every individual and household across Northern Ireland is receiving all social security benefits they and their families are properly entitled to. It is the highest annual increase since the programme began.
Minister Givan commented: “Social security benefits provide a critically important safety net for those in most need. The Department recognised a long term requirement to take proactive steps to address the barriers to claiming and to improve uptake rates.
“Over the past three years, 13,401 customers have been enabled to claim more than £48million in additional benefits they were entitled to which exceeds the original targets of the plan. This is not only additional money going into households right across Northern Ireland - through increased income levels it also delivers a knock on boost for the local economy as well.”
On average, people were better off by £78 per week in the 2015/16 year across a range of benefits which they had not previously been claiming.
In total since 2005, the Department’s benefit uptake work has generated more than £115.7million for 33,569 people in Northern Ireland.
The Department used a mix of direct targeting, partnership, community outreach, advertising and promotion to target people. Full and confidential benefit entitlement checks were carried out to assess entitlement to social security benefits and a range of wider benefits, services and supports.
Minister Givan concluded: “The success of improving benefit uptake clearly demonstrates the power of partnership working, as we have collaborated across local and central Government, statutory bodies and advice/voluntary sector partners to reach the widest possible range of people. Benefit uptake continues to be a key priority for my Department. Over the next three years, we aim to assist 100,000 people to check their entitlements and deliver at least £40million in further additional annual benefits. I am confident the Department will continue to ensure we deliver the support to people that they are entitled to.”
More advice on checking your benefit entitlement is available by ringing the Make the Call Advice Line number on 0800 232 1271, or online at the nidirect website.
Notes to editors:
- Maximising Incomes & Outcomes – A 3 Year Plan for Improving the Uptake of Benefits was launched in July 2013 with a target is to secure at least £30million in additional benefits for a minimum of 10,000 people by 2016. The 2015/16 outcomes are as a result of the activities undertaken in year three of the plan.
- The Department’s new three year plan entitled ‘Supporting People – Maximising Income through the Uptake of Benefits’ was launched in September 2016 and aims to secure at least £40million in additional benefits by 2019.
- Breakdown of additional annual benefits in 2015/16 by Council area:
Council Area Amount Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council £1,158,821 Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council £1,844,138 Belfast City Council £2,424,618 Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council £1,705,391 Derry City and Strabane District Council £1,251,098 Fermanagh and Omagh District Council £1,732,307 Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council £1,045,118 Mid and East Antrim Borough Council £1,371,559 Mid Ulster District Council £1,486,154 Newry, Mourne and Down District Council £2,319,732 North Down and Ards Borough Council £1,628,805
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