Skip to main content

Social Security Benefits: Pensioners

Volume 454: debated on Tuesday 5 December 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what measures are in place to ensure that senior citizens in Northern Ireland are informed of benefits which they are entitled to claim. (106917)

The Social Security Agency (SSA) promotes the full range of benefits for pensioners through Pension tele-centres in Belfast and Londonderry, the internet, promotional leaflets, and regional benefit uptake events as well as through 35 Jobs and Benefit/Social Security Offices.

Benefit Uptake

In recognition of the fact that some vulnerable groups, including pensioners, may require additional support, the SSA in 2005 established benefit uptake as one of its five key priorities.

Since then, it has delivered special exercises targeted at approximately 20,000 pensioners. These exercises have been delivered with the independent advice sector and all participants have been offered a free comprehensive benefit check. In pilot exercises last year successful participants obtained an average weekly increase of £30 with an additional yearly benefit spend of £575,000. This year’s activities are still being evaluated.

Additionally, the SSA also delivered a housing benefit up-take initiative which targeted 23,765 pensioners in receipt of Pension Credit who appeared to have an entitlement to housing benefit but who were not claiming the benefit. To date, over 6,000 applications have been issued, with approximately 4,000 (65 per cent.) having been returned and passed to either the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) or Rates Collection Agency (RCA) for assessment.

Plans are already being progressed for the delivery of next year’s benefit uptake activities.