£200m of benefits - It’s your money!

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STARTLING new figures show that nearly one-fifth of older people living in the Newtownabbey council area are in poverty.

The local rate of 19 per cent is three points higher than the United Kingdom average.

Yet the older people’s charity Age NI says a staggering £200 million of benefits for pensioners go unclaimed each year.

It doesn’t make sense that local pensioners are enduring hardship when they are entitled to benefits that could change their lives for the better. All for want of one phone call.

That’s why the Newtownabbey Times is backing Age NI’s campaign to get the money out of Government coffers and in to the purses and pockets of the people who need it most.

We are encouraging older people, their families, friends, or carers to call the freephone Age NI advice service on 0808 808 7575 to claim what is rightfully theirs.

Newtownabbey Times editor Valerie Martin said: “We know there are many older people who may be reluctant to come forward for help with benefits, but Age NI’s special advice service makes it easy for them to find out what they are entitled to and to help make those claims.”

Age NI’s Anne O’Reilly revealed that in 2013 to date, the number of callers to the helpline has doubled, with 3,100 people picking up the phone. The charity has identified £266,857 in unclaimed benefits for older people.

But worryingly, Age NI reckons that only three per cent of those calls came from older people in the Newtownabbey borough.

Anne added: “Age NI and the Newtownabbey Times are championing this campaign to increase calls to our advice lines and help make older people here better off.

”A successful benefit check could, on average, provide up to £62 per week in additional financial support to an older person.”

And that could make all the difference.

Read more in this week’s Times...