Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has urged people to 'Make the Call' to her Department's benefits advice service as the cost of living crisis continues to escalate.
Minister Hargey was speaking as a campaign to publicise the Make the Call Wraparound service began. The service supports people in accessing benefits and supports to which they are entitled but have not been claiming.
Minister Hargey said,
"The key message of the campaign is that a quick call to us can make a lasting difference.
"Benefits maximisation is crucial to those who are struggling with rising costs and I would urge anyone who thinks they may have an entitlement to get in touch.
"Even if people have contacted us before, a change in circumstances may mean that your eligibility has changed and support may now be available.
"Our Make the Call staff can take you through any questions or issues that you have and advise of any supports that could be available to you."
Last year the service supported 9,000 people in accessing Pound 42 million in unclaimed benefits with figures showing that people who 'Made the Call' in 20/21 became Pound 90 better off per week, on average.
The Minister continued,
"Quite often people don't realise there is support out there to assist them during difficult times so I am encouraging people to phone and talk to us about their situation.
"Staff will complete a needs assessment and connect members of the public to a range of supports and services.
"We are actively reaching out to those people who find themselves in situations where every pound generated, and every assistance offered, can help improve lives."
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.