Pictured at the launch of Bryson Energy’s benefits report in the Long Gallery, Parliament Buildings on Wednesday 30th May 2012. (L-R) Dr Chris Morris UU, Prof Christine Liddell UU, Alex Maskey MLA, Dayna McCreadie, Bryson Energy and Nigel Brady, Director of Bryson Energy.
Northern Ireland householders losing out on £1.47 million in unclaimed benefits.
Chairperson of the Assembly Committee for Social Development Alex Maskey MLA yesterday welcomed the launch of the ‘Benefit Checks – Advice and outcomes among Northern Ireland residents Report” commissioned by Bryson Energy who are part of Bryson Charitable Group, the leading Northern Ireland social enterprise
Speaking at the launch at Parliament Buildings, Nigel Brady, Director of Bryson Energy, said: “It has long been known that a significant proportion of benefits go unclaimed in Northern Ireland and this Report proves that it pays households to undertake a benefit assessment to ensure they are claiming their full entitlement”.
Bryson Energy Benefit Advisers offer a benefit assessment to customers contacting them about the DSD funded Warm Homes Scheme. In addition Bryson Energy undertake benefit assessment checks for a range of organisations targeting specific customers.
Also speaking at yesterday’s report launch Chairperson of the Committee for Social Development Alex Maskey MLA said: “Whilst previous reports have suggested a reluctance amongst many to claim benefits it has become increasingly evident that with the right level of expert advice and support many more local people will consider applying for the benefits they are entitled to. I commend the staff at Bryson Energy for their commitment and dedication and for the assistance they provide to vulnerable customers in our community”.
The Bryson Energy Benefits Advice Team between July 2009 and July 2010 carried out some 6000 benefits checks; this report was based on in depth support and follow up with 390 clients.
Results show that £1.47M was recovered in unclaimed benefits for clients in the first year. Increased income for successful applicants averaged £2,448 in the first year this equates to a significant increase of £47 per week in household income. This additional income was often used to offset heating costs. Many respondents were carers or in ill health themselves and were likely to spend more time at home.
David Crothers, Chairman of Bryson Energy said: “Looking ahead to the future it is vital that strategies are developed which increase the likelihood that clients will follow through with a claim once a positive benefit check has been carried out. In the development of future projects I would urge decision makers to focus investment on benefit entitlement/maximisation projects.”