Christmas has come early for an elderly couple after they were handed £30,000 worth of unclaimed benefits they had no idea they were entitled to.
And the ‘Robin Hood’ benefits adviser who secured the money for the two pensioners estimates there are countless thousands of pounds not going to people who are fully entitled to them.
Kathleen Bradley of the Dove House Community Resource |Centre in Londonderry is now urging everyone in receipt of any benefit to have an entitlement check done.
“This is an elderly couple in their 70s who, like many people their age, thought the only thing they were entitled to was their old age pension,” said Kathleen.
“But very quickly I found |other benefits they should have been getting.
“Both of them qualified for the severe disability payment because of their fragility and health conditions, and they should have been getting it for six years — but they had no idea and no-one told them.
“They were both entitled to claim a total of £160 allowances and we got it back-dated and were delighted to be able to tell them they were getting £30,000.”
Kathleen said that while this may have been the largest amount she has been able to secure, |it is not the first time this |has happened.
And she claimed many older people have had it “drummed into them from the Government” that the only thing they are entitled to is their old age pension.
“The Government seems to have a policy of ‘if you don't ask, you don't get’ but that is just |not acceptable.”
Many thousands are lost every year to the economy on unclaimed benefits which Kathleen Bradley says is because people are being deterred from claiming.
She continued: “The system seems to be set up to put people |off claiming.
“This is because as soon as someone asks if they may be entitled to something extra, the first thing they are confronted with is a thick form full of complicated questions and no-one at benefits office is telling people they could be entitled to more, as far as I have seen from talking to the people who come to us.
“I would tell anyone who is in receipt of benefits to get a check done at any resources centre or advice centre.
“Even if you just get an extra £6 a week, that's £300 in a year. That’s a lot of money.”