£2m ‘better off’ after benefits review


People in Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council area are £2 million better off as a result of work by the Department for Communities to help them claim the social security benefits to which they are entitled, according to new findings.

In total, across Northern Ireland, household income of 4,810 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’.

Joan O’Hara, head of the department’s ‘Make the Call’ Team, explained: “The welfare system exists to support people during uncertain times, however, through our benefit uptake work we know that people don’t always realise what that can mean for their benefit entitlement, and continue to struggle without the support they are entitled to.

“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 council area, a family who had their benefits reviewed were found to be entitled to Carers Allowance. They are now £63 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.

Community Outreach workers are located across Northern Ireland to provide face to face advice and assistance to vulnerable customers through home visits.

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