Newtownabbey Citizens Advice Bureau recovered a massive £4.6million in unclaimed benefits for its clients during 2012/13.
The startling figure was revealed in the CAB’s annual report, which was presented to the organisation’s annual general meeting at the Dunanney Centre on Thursday, June 6.
The figure obtained for clients during the past financial year was up 50 per cent on the £3million reclaimed during 2011/12.
“This £4.6 million will have a significant impact on poverty in the Newtownabbey area,” said CAB District Manager Pat Hutchinson. “This is an astonishing achievement by the Bureau in reaching this record breaking figure. With many families struggling to make ends meet in these difficult times Newtownabbey CAB is committed to assisting in tackling poverty and ensuring local families receive their rightful social security entitlements. The impact this £4.6 million will have for local vulnerable families and for the local economy cannot be understated; this is real money helping real people.”
Also discussed during the AGM was the shocking level of client debt being dealt with by the Bureau through its money advice project - debts including mortgage arrears, credit card bills and pay day loans.
Staff at the Dunanney Centre are now dealing with a staggering £5.3million pounds of client debt, including 376 new cases during 2012/13.
“Debt advice and relieving the accompanying stress of same for clients continues to be a major part of our service,” Mrs Hutchinson added.
Highlighting that Newtownabbey CAB had been given 100 per cent mark in its three-year national audit, she thanked the council and the Department for Social Development for their ongoing financial support.
Guest speaker at the meeting was the Minister for Social Development, Nelson McCausland MLA, who paid tribute to “the outstanding work of Newtownabbey Citizens Advice Bureau in helping many hundreds of people deal with the challenges of their daily lives.”