Older people in Larne are better off thanks to the Age NI and Larne Times-supported campaign to increase benefit uptake.
Jacqui Corscadden, head of services, said: “Age NI is delighted with the success of the partnership with the Larne Times to encourage older people to claim the benefits they’re entitled to.
“Since March, our advice lines have received almost 100 calls from people in Larne, Carrick and Newtownabbey – five times more compared to the same period, last year.
“Our advisors have carried out seven times more benefits checks and identified £56,362.73 in unclaimed benefits for older people.
“The Larne Times has given us a unique opportunity to reach out to those most in need of financial support. The fact that our advice team has identified 13 times more in unclaimed benefits for older people in such a short time, a huge increase on the previous year, is substantial. It just goes to show that older people are in real need of help.
“A successful benefit check could, on average, provide up to £62 per week in additional financial support to an older person and make a real difference to their lives.
“One older man, whose wife sadly passed away, was struggling financially. He continually refused benefits believing it to be a ‘hand-out’ and relied on his late wife to fill in forms and worry about the money side of things. It was all getting on top of him when his daughter encouraged him to call the Age NI Advice Service. An advisor carried out a benefits check and identified that he was entitled to Attendance Allowance and Pension Credit. He was extremely grateful for Age NI’s help and for the encouragement to claim. He’s currently enjoying a good quality of life and managing much better.
“However, there’s still a lot of money going unclaimed in benefits by older people in Northern Ireland - in fact, a whopping £200 million including Housing Benefit and Pension Credit. It’s vital that older people continue to claim the benefits they’re entitled to, and in turn, reduce poverty levels in the local boroughs of Larne, Carrick and Newtownabbey.
“Last year, in Northern Ireland, the Age NI Advice Service dealt with over 10,000 calls and helped to identify over £1 million in unclaimed benefit for older people in need. There’s lots of useful information about money matters and benefit access on www.ageni.org and if you or someone you know needs additional support, contact the Age NI Advice Service on freephone 0808 808 7575 today to speak with one of our advisors in confidence.”
Larne Times editor Valerie Martin said she was delighted with the success of the campaign and hoped that it would help to make a real difference in the lives of older people living throughout the borough.