In total, across Northern Ireland, household income of 4810 people increased by £21.3 million - an average £85 per week. The £21.3million additional benefits represents the largest ever amount generated in a single year since this work began in 2005.
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: “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.”
In one case in the local council area, a claimant who had their benefits reviewed was found to be entitled to Attendance Allowance and State Pension Credit. They are now £134 better off each week. 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. 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 https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/makethecall
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.