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Author: Belfast Telegraph - belfasttelegraph.co.uk
Published on 11 March 2011 12:00 AM

A £250,000 fund encouraging people to take up benefits has been launched. It aims to help local organisations to come up with innovative ways of reaching those who qualify for payments but do not take them up.

Social Development Minister Alex Attwood said: "I want to ensure that all those in Northern Ireland who qualify for benefits are getting what is rightfully theirs. Therefore I am extending the Social Security Agency's benefit uptake activities to include an Innovation Fund of £250,000."

He added: "Offering this financial help to local organisations to support us in our business is an excellent way of harnessing the valuable skills and knowledge of these organisations who work with the people we are trying to reach.

"In this difficult financial climate, all those who qualify for benefits should be receiving what they are entitled to."

He said the Social Security Agency has been proactively encouraging benefit uptake since 2005.

By June 2010, this work had generated an additional £33 million in benefit uptake and arrears.

Mr Attwood said: "I am encouraged by the interest of the voluntary and community sector at today's event and their willingness to share their opinions on how we can encourage people to claim their entitlement to benefits.

"My department's future work on benefit uptake will take into account the ideas generated by today's workshop."

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