£3m extra benefit is claimed

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News

More than £3m in additional benefits were generated for people in the Mid Ulster area last year, according to the Department for Communities.

The department said the figure - totalling £3,292,024 - came from its ‘Make the Call’ scheme, which helped people to claim social security benefits they were entitled to.

In total £37.1m additional benefits were generated for people across Northern Ireland - the highest amount ever raised in a single year since work began in 2005.

This equates to a 74 per cent increase from 2016/17 and means the largest ever number of people - 7,765 - are better off by an average of £92 a week, the highest ever weekly increase.

Spokesperson for the Department Glynis Jones said the welfare system exists to support people during uncertain times but, through their work, they came to realise that many don’t know what they are entitled to claim and struggle without getting the support and services to which they are entitled.

“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 and supports or services,” she said.

“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 a Needs Assessment was found to be entitled to Bereavement Benefit. They are now £81 a week better off and received £3,500 in arrears.

The Department has a free and confidential telephone line which is available for people who feel they may be missing out on benefits , services or supports they’re entitled to.

Advice and support is available on benefits and other government schemes such as the Blue Badge scheme, help with school meals, transport or uniform grants and hospital travel costs.

“The ‘Make the Call’ is promoted through direct mailings, advertising, and information events,” continued Ms Jones.

My team also works collaboratively through effective partnerships with other departments, councils, primary care providers and the voluntary and community sector to connect people with the services and organisatitionns that can make real differenc to their lives.

“In addition Community Outreach workers located across Northern Ireland provide face to face support and assistance to those who need it.”

Further 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