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Loss of Pensions’ Advisors will make it harder for older people to access their entitlements

23 April, 2007


Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Welfare Rights and Older People, Newry Armagh Assembly member Mickey Brady has said that plans to slash the number of Pensions' Benefit Advisors from 34 to 12 will have a devastating effect and warned that it will lead to greater numbers of older people not being able to access the benefits that they are entitled to.

Mr Brady said:

"The proposals to slash the number of Pensions' Benefit Advisors from 34 to 12 will have a devastating effect. The danger is that even greater numbers of older people will not being able to access the benefits that they are entitled to.

"A report published last year on the level of benefit uptake (Income Related Benefits - Estimates of Take-up in 2003/05) said that the total amount of Pension Credit left unclaimed annually was between £57 million and £134 million and that the average number of pensioners entitled to Pension Credit but not claiming it was between 39,000 and 74,000.

"It seems insane that we have a situation where thousands and thousands of older people are not claiming the benefits they are entitled to and now we have proposals that will make it more difficult.

"Anyone who thinks that tackling the problem of unclaimed benefits will be made easier over the phone or through the internet is failing to understand both the scale of the problem itself and the reality that older people, in many cases, need and prefer direct face-to-face support to ensure that they claim what they are entitled to." ENDS

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