With the help of the Benefit Uptake Programme, some 135 of Armagh’s most vulnerable people benefited from an extra £455,000 in their pockets, it was revealed today (Monday).
In the Craigavon Council area a total of 230 got an extra £712,000 they did not know they were entitled to, while in Newry and Mourne 226 were able to enjoy a collective benefit of £804,000.
This is due to the success of the Minister for Social Department’s Benefit Uptake Programme in 2013/14, which saw over 4,000 people, many of them older people, gain £14.2million in new and additional benefits.
In fact, since 2005, benefit uptake work has generated over £81million in additional income for people in Northern Ireland.
Minister Mervyn Storey said: “I am committed to promoting the uptake of benefits in an effort to tackle poverty and improve lives for those most vulnerable. This extra money means more income for grocery shopping and help towards fuel bills for keeping homes warm in winter.
“This is additional money that is making a difference to people throughout Northern Ireland, including 135 people in the Armagh area.
“There is no doubt that the challenges presented by the current economic climate are significant. That is why it is vital we ensure that all those who are entitled to benefits receive them.
“Local people, many aged 60 and over, who benefited from the uptake campaign, are better off by an average of £62 per week; that’s money which will help put food on the table and oil in the tank.”
He added: “I urge people in all circumstances to ‘Make the Call’, including older people and those caring for them, to find out if they are entitled to any additional benefits. The ‘Make the Call’ freephone* advice line is confidential and manned by experienced and friendly advisors who can provide information about what benefits people may be entitled to, and arrange help with making a claim for benefit where it is required. Make the Call on 0800 232 1271.”
The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland, Claire Keatinge, continues to support the campaign and makes a personal appearance in the ‘Make the Call’ television advertisement.
Claire Keatinge said: “Many older people across Northern Ireland struggle to get by on small incomes, some finding themselves having to choose between heating and eating.
“I commend the Minister and his Department for their work on the ‘Make the Call’ campaign, and I am delighted that an additional £455,000 has now been distributed in the past year to those in the Armagh area who need and deserve it. I would encourage all older people to ‘Make the Call’ and check that they are receiving all the support they are entitled to.”
For more information on benefit uptake programmes, visit: http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/unclaimed-benefits
*Network operators may charge for calls from a mobile.
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