Record uptake of £18m in additional benefits claimed in Northern Ireland

Communities Minister Paul Givan denied 'snubbing' the Irish language
Communities Minister Paul Givan denied 'snubbing' the Irish language

Almost £18m in additional annual benefits have been generated for 4,433 people in Northern Ireland who had previously not been claiming them, Communities Minister Paul Givan has announced.

The latest figures, for the 2015/16 financial year, relate to improving benefit uptake work by the Department for Communities (DfC).

This aims to ensure individuals and household across Northern Ireland are receiving all social security benefits they are entitled to.

It is the highest annual increase since the programme began.

On average, people were better off by £78 per week in the 2015/16 year across a range of benefits which they had not previously been claiming.

In total since 2005, the department’s benefit uptake work has generated more than £115.7m for 33,569 people in Northern Ireland.

Mr Givan said: “Over the past three years, 13,401 customers have been enabled to claim more than £48 in additional benefits they were entitled to which exceeds the original targets of the plan. This is not only additional money going into households right across Northern Ireland - through increased income levels it also delivers a knock on boost for the local economy as well.”

The DfC used a mix of direct targeting, partnership, community outreach, advertising and promotion to target people. Full and confidential benefit entitlement checks were carried out to assess entitlement to social security benefits and a range of wider benefits, services and supports.

More advice on checking benefit entitlement is available by ringing the ‘Make the Call’ Benefits Advice Line number on 0800 232 1271, or online at https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/makethecall