Thousands of Derry people to be asked to take part in benefits check

Thu, 08/12/2011 - 00:12 -- Editor

Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland, is urging local people to take part in a benefit check to make sure they are receiving all the money they are entitled to.

As part of this year’s benefit uptake programme the Minister is writing to 25,000 people across Northern Ireland, encouraging them to take part in a full, confidential benefits check which will be carried out by Advice NI.

Encouraging people across Northern Ireland to take up the invitation, Minister McCausland explained that, last year, 1,300 people received an additional £4million in benefits as a result of the entitlement checks.

Nelson McCausland said: “This year’s Benefit Uptake Programme is vital, particularly with the continued rise in household costs across Northern Ireland.

“Last year over 1,300 people were better off by almost £50 a week following an entitlement check. This is a substantial amount that can make a real difference to the lives of the most vulnerable in our society.”

Minister McCausland added: “This year, in partnership with Advice NI, we will directly target 25,000 people who may be entitled to additional benefits such as Attendance Allowance, Carers Allowance and State Pension Credit, and offer them a full benefit assessment.

“I would strongly encourage customers to make sure they are not missing out on money that is rightfully theirs. I would also ask people to keep in mind their friends, or those in their family who may be entitled to more money – such as an older relative, who could perhaps benefit from an entitlement check.”

Bob Stronge, Chief Executive of Advice NI said: “Advice NI is delighted to have secured the contract to deliver the Benefit Uptake Programme for 2011 / 12. We understand that many Northern Ireland households are struggling to make ends meet at this difficult time. We have a proven track record in successfully delivering benefit uptake work and our advisers will make every effort to increase benefit uptake for people who would otherwise miss out on unclaimed entitlement.”

The Benefit Uptake Programme has been in place since 2005 and has resulted in over £37million in additional benefit and arrears being generated for customers across Northern Ireland to date.