Unclaimed benefits: Those who ‘make the call’ £90 better off per week in Northern Ireland

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has said her Department’s Make the Call service last year supported 9,000 people in accessing £42 million in unclaimed benefits.

The figures for 2020/21 show that people who ‘Made the Call’ became £90 better off per week, on average.

The ‘Make the Call’ service supports people in accessing benefits, services and supports to which they are entitled but have not been claiming.

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Since 2005 the service has generated £304 million in unclaimed benefits.

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey pictured previously in Derry.

Minister Hargey said: “This has helped people who ‘Made the Call’ become, on average, £89.58 better off per week. During 2020/21, we received over 500 referrals from our partner organisations which helped ensure people are receiving their full entitlement to benefits, supports and services that can make a real difference to their lives.

“Often people don’t realise there is support out there to assist them during difficult times. With ‘Make the Call’ we are actively reaching out to those thousands of people who find themselves in situations where every pound generated, and every assistance offered, can help improve lives.”

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The Make the Call Wraparound Service works in conjunction with a range of partner organisations such as the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE), Housing Rights, Dementia NI and Carers NI.

Additional supports available can include: blue badges for car parking or free bus passes; access to local groups to help maintain community connections and social independence; help with health costs; home safety checks; and assistance with reducing energy costs.

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As part of the service, the ‘Make the Call’ team carry out a needs assessment to ascertain whether an individual is receiving all the benefits, supports and services they may be entitled to.

To ‘Make the Call’ you can phone 0800 232 1271; text ADVICE to 67300; visit nidirect.gov.uk/makethecall or email [email protected]

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The Minister continued: “The aim of ‘Make the Call’ is to support people when they need it most, some of whom are vulnerable through age, disability, illness or adverse circumstances.

“As well as proving advice on the financial support that may be available, it also connects people with other services and supports across the wider government, voluntary and community sectors.”

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The success of the ‘Make the Call’ service was highlighted earlier this year when an independent survey carried out by IPSOS Mori concluded that 87% of those who had used the service felt it had had a positive impact on their lives including their financial, mental and physical health.