Thousands of NI residents discover they are entitled to an average of £90 per week more in benefits

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Almost 12,000 people across Northern Ireland have ended up an average of £90 better off each week after using a Department for Communities advice service.

Around £55 million of additional benefits has been claimed in the past year by members of the public making use of the Make the Call wraparound service which connects people with the benefits, supports and services to which they are entitled and have not previously been claiming.

During the year, Make the Call supported 11,700 people to access entitlements they had not been claiming – an additional £54.9 million of benefits was claimed which represents an increase of £5.2m in additional benefits claimed compared to the previous year.

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This includes over £19 million for people of pension age claiming Attendance Allowance and Pension Credit and an additional £11 million in respect of Personal Independence Payment to support those individuals with additional living costs or mobility needs as a result of a health condition or disability.

During the past year, the Make the Call scheme supported 11,700 people in Northern Ireland to access entitlements they had not been claiming and who, on average, are now £90 per week better off. Picture: National WorldDuring the past year, the Make the Call scheme supported 11,700 people in Northern Ireland to access entitlements they had not been claiming and who, on average, are now £90 per week better off. Picture: National World
During the past year, the Make the Call scheme supported 11,700 people in Northern Ireland to access entitlements they had not been claiming and who, on average, are now £90 per week better off. Picture: National World

Permanent Secretary of the Department for Communities, Colum Boyle, said: “Once again the Make the Call service has extended its reach in connecting people with the benefits to which they are entitled.

"I am particularly pleased that the results show the support that the Make the Call service provides for older age groups and those with disabilities.

"Over the past three years the additional annual benefits generated has increased from £42 million to £55 million reflecting our commitment to assisting some of our most vulnerable citizens.”

How can Make the Call help?

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In addition to supporting the uptake of unclaimed benefits, Make the Call connects people to other supports and services. This can include:

  • a blue badge for car parking or a free bus pass
  • access to local groups to help maintain community connections and social independence
  • free school meals
  • home safety checks
  • assistance with reducing energy costs.

The Make the Call Wraparound Service works in conjunction with a range of partner organisations such as the Housing Executive, Housing Rights, Dementia NI and Carers NI. Those networks were widened during 2022/23 with the addition of ten new partnerships across the public sector including with Employers for Childcare.

Separately, an examination into the impact of the Make the Call service has been produced through the Department’s Economic and Social Research Programme which found the service had a comprehensive reach, particularly with those in the older age groups.

To 'Make the Call' you can phone 0800 232 1271, text ADVICE to 079 8440 5248 or visit nidirect.gov.uk/makethecall or email [email protected]

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Permanent Secretary Colum Boyle added : “An average increase of £90 a week can be a significant help in challenging, financial times.

"I would encourage anyone who thinks they may be eligible for support - or who knows someone who might benefit - to Make the Call.

"It is a free, confidential service and our teams are ready to help.”