18/12/2014

Social Fund Payments 'Help Thousands'

Thousands of people in need in Northern Ireland last year received help in the form of Social Fund payments, it has been revealed.

The Social Fund Annual Report showed that during 2013/14, some £140m in payments helped people throughout the region. It is administered by the Social Security Agency and was set up to help those on low incomes and provide support when it was needed most.

Essential support was provided through Winter Fuel Payments, Maternity Grants, Funeral Payments, Community Care Grants, Budgeting Loans and Crisis Loans.

During 2013/14, more than 311,000 pensioners received Winter Fuel Payments amounting to £54m, while more than 103,000 Crisis Loan payments were made totalling £14.45m. In addition, over 20,000 Community Care Grants were made amounting to £13.69m, and more than 3,300 Sure Start Maternity Grants were awarded, at £1.67m.

Some 2,500 Funeral Payments were made (£2.62m), while over 129,000 Budgeting Loan awards were made totalling £53.69m.

Discussing the importance of the support offered by the fund, Social Development Minister Mervyn Storey said: "The Social Fund is vital in helping those on low incomes to cope with unforeseen emergencies and to manage unanticipated expenditure. Even a small amount of money can make a huge difference in times of need and can help to significantly alleviate the worry that people face."

(JP/MH)

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