Some £600,000 worth of benefits could have gone unclaimed in the Carrick area last year were it not for the help of advisors.
The figure was outlined by a team from the Department of Social Development’s Social Security Agency as they carried out free entitlement checks at Carrickfergus Library last Thursday.
The session was part of a series of roadshows aimed at bringing the service to community level.
Roadshow organiser Melissa Sharples explained: “There are an awful lot of unclaimed benefits out there; we work with the Agency to carry out free entitlement checks as often people just aren’t aware of what help they can get.
“We have been bringing the roadshows to different council areas so that people can get face-to-face advice or be signposted elsewhere if needed.
“People rule themselves out for all sorts of reasons and think that some sort of benefit might not apply to them, but they may be eligible for a whole raft of different payments - things like disability living allowance, state pension credit, help with rates or the Warm Homes scheme.
“Last year we helped people in Carrickfergus claim around £600,000 worth of benefits they were entitled to.”
Carrickfergus Borough Council Chief Executive Sheila McClelland said: “We are committed to working to improve the health and well-being of borough residents both through direct intervention and through working in partnership with statutory, community, and voluntary bodies.
“In 2013, the Council authored its Health and Well-being Strategy outlining key aims and objectives for 2013-15.
“One of the key themes of this strategy is working towards eradicating food and fuel poverty to support those most in need within our community.
“Ensuring that residents have access to all benefits to which they are entitled plays a vital role in meeting this objective.”
To speak to an advisor at the Benefit Advice Line, contact 0800 232 1271.