What we are doing now
The 2014/15 "Make the Call" Improving Benefit Uptake Programme is currently underway. It is an all-age programme, comprising of a range of evidence based approaches.
Using existing data we have identified just over 25,000 people who we believe could be potentially entitled to additional benefits, namely State Pension Credit and Attendance Allowance. Those targeted will be across all Council areas in Northern Ireland. The exercise will be delivered with the help of a third sector partner-Advice NI. Each person will receive a personal letter from Minister McCausland inviting them to contact Advice NI to have a full benefit entitlement check.
We are undertaking various approaches through promotion, advertising and community partners.
Our “Make the Call” advertising and promotional campaign utilises TV, press, outdoor advertising, posters, social media and other branded materials to encourage people to make the call to our Benefit Advice Line. This campaign is supported by the Commissioner for Older People .
The refreshed "Make the Call" advertising campaign, begining in January 2014 will build on the previous sucess and will include a renewed focus on older people.
We are building upon our promotional and community engagement approaches with partners over and above the traditional advice sector including: churches, faith based groups, community and sports organisations and a wide range of civic partners.
We are currently running a series of community road shows and benefit advice clinics in partnership with Councils across Northern Ireland, to highlight Benefit Uptake.
Community Outreach Service
The Community Outreach Service consists of 20 experienced outreach officers located across Northern Ireland. They provide personal entitlement checks to anyone contacting our Make the Call Freephone helpline - 0800 232 1271.
They can also assist with application form completion for customers who need extra support to help turn that potential entitlement into a benefit claim.
In addition, our community outreach team can attend benefit awareness clinics delivering talks and information sessions. Attendees at such events can also have a personal benefit entitlement check.
Interested in our community Outreach Service?For more information, please contact an outreach service manager
who would be happy to provide more information on the role of the team.
The Innovation Fund for Increasing Benefit Uptake
In partnership with the Atlantic Philanthropies, the Department, awarded £157,000 in funding to four projects and to deliver fresh and innovative approaches to reaching harder to engage customer groups with unclaimed entitlement. One of the key aims of the fund is to reach more vunerable groups who may be reticent about approaching government. The Fund has given organisations flexibility to determine what new or enhanced services would be successful in increasing benefit uptake amongst their customer group.
The Fund commenced in January 2014 and will last for 1 year.