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Availability of Benefits need to be made clearer – Brady

7 October, 2008

As the credit crunch worsens Newry and Armagh Sinn Féin MLA, Mickey Brady has said that the Department of Social Development needs to clearly inform the public exactly who is entitled to benefits so that much needed money reaches those who need it most.

Mr. Brady said,

"With regard to benefit uptake, the whole administration of provision of benefit and uptake needs to be urgently addressed by the Department for Social Development, especially given the current Credit Crunch Crisis when now more than ever people are becoming increasingly more reliant on Benefits just to meet their basic everyday needs.

"Part of the problem is that many people just don't know what is out there, take Pension Credit for example. Every week somewhere between one and two million pound is lost to the six county pot because the money simply is not claimed, pension credit is particularly relevant given the fact that it can lead to passport benefits like, Social fund, housing benefit, rate rebates, etc.

How do we address this?

"People and in particular older people need to be given the proper information in order to access and maximize their benefit uptake, whilst Social Security Legislation is parity legislation and given the current restriction that currently apply to devolved government here in the North of Ireland, we lack the power to change the law. We can however change how the Benefits system is administered, by doing so we can ensure that benefits are administered in a fair and equitable way, this is where efficiency savings can be made and this is where we can ensure that much needed money reaches those that need it most." ENDS

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