The independent MLA for East Londonderry said that the most recent figure, which showed that around 50,000 people of pension age were living in poverty in Northern Ireland, had most likely increased since the cost of living crisis.
“Where older people were entitled to benefits they must be helped access them, she said.
“Benefits, funds and grants exist to help those who are entitled to them. The benefits system can be complicated, confusing and cumbersome for many to navigate, but often people are not aware that they are eligible for them in the first place. If the funds are there and the systems are in place to deliver them, then the government must do more to ensure people are not unnecessarily struggling.”
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Ms Sugden raised the issue with the Minister for Communities using assembly questions to ask what steps were being taken to alleviate financial pressure on older people and to inform them of any possible assistance.
“I would like to see a more proactive approach from ministers when it comes to the better use of the support available,” she said.
“Access to what someone is entitled to should not be prevented by prohibitive levels of bureaucracy or government inaction.”