Published Thursday, 23 January 2014
Most of those who applied to the programme were older people. (© Getty)
Close to 5'000 people have applied to the Department of Social Development's Benefit Uptake Programme. Most of those helped by the scheme were older people.
Nearly £4million more was allocated this time around compared to the previous year's campaign.
While at a visit to the Pension Centre in Londonderry, Minister Nelson McCausland said that promoting the uptake of benefits is a component of his department's efforts in tackling poverty and improving lives for the most vulnerable.
"It ensures extra money for grocery shopping in local communities or towards fuel for keeping homes warm in winter. This is additional money that is making a difference to people in difficult economic times."
"It is always important that we ensure that people who are entitled to benefits receive them. The fact that we have managed to secure nearly an additional £17million this year for people in need in Northern Ireland, is very encouraging indeed."
Local people mainly aged 60 and over who benefited from the benefit uptake programme last year, were better off by an average of £65 per week.
Nelson McCausland, Social Development Minister
"I am committed to making sure that our efforts in this area continue and grow, and I am confident of even greater success going forward."
The Minister also announced that a refreshed Make the Call advertising campaign will begin on Monday, as part of the 2013-2014 benefit uptake programme.
Minister Nelson McCausland added: "I call on people, in any and all circumstances, to come forward and find out if they are entitled to any additional benefits. That is why I have reinvested in a fresh Make the Call advertising campaign to help people recognise their needs, check their potential entitlements and to make a claim for financial or other help."
He said that the campaign will include television, newspaper and outdoor advertisements, encouraging people in a range of circumstances, including older people and their carers, to ring a dedicated freephone benefit adviceline on 0800 232 1271.
Unclaimed benefits telephone: 0800 232 1271
"The advice line is manned by friendly and experienced advisors who can provide information about what benefits they may be entitled to and to arrange help with making a claim where it is needed."
© UTV News