24/01/2014

£16.9m Received In New Benefits

Nearly 5,000 people have received a total of nearly £16.9m in new and additional social security benefits, according to the Department for Social Development.

The Department's Benefit Uptake Programme has seen an increase in outcomes from last year of nearly £4m.

During a visit to the Pension Centre in Londonderry, Minister Nelson McCausland spoke of the growing success of his Benefit Uptake Programme.

"It is always important that we ensure that people who are entitled to benefits receive them," he said.

"The fact that we have managed to secure nearly an additional £17million this year for people in need in Northern Ireland, is very encouraging indeed. Local people mainly aged 60 and over who benefited from the benefit uptake programme last year, were better off by an average of £65 per week. I am committed to making sure that our efforts in this area continue and grow, and I am confident of even greater success going forward."

"I call on people, in any and all circumstances, to come forward and find out if they are entitled to any additional benefits. That is why I have reinvested in a fresh Make the Call advertising campaign to help people recognise their needs, check their potential entitlements and to make a claim for financial or other help.

"The Make the Call campaign will again include television, newspaper and outdoor advertisements, encouraging people in a range of circumstances, including older people and those looking after them, to ring a dedicated freephone benefit advice Line - 0800 232 1271. The advice line is manned by friendly and experienced advisors who can provide information about what benefits they may be entitled to and to arrange help with making a claim where it is needed."

The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland, Claire Keatinge, has again agreed to support the campaign.

"Increased numbers of older people applying for, and receiving the benefits they are rightfully entitled to, is very good news. I welcome the efforts of DSD to increase benefit take up by older people – and I will continue to support the 'Make the Call' campaign so that more and more older people and those looking after them receive the money that they should.

"Too many older people still live on incomes that make it difficult to get by. This can cause constant worry and can make it difficult for older people to keep warm, keep well and join in with all the family and community activities they wish to."

(IT/MH)

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