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Carers' rates relief plan unveiled by Northern Ireland minister Wilson

An estimated 2,500 carers could benefit from a rates relief scheme unveiled by Finance Minister Sammy Wilson.

The low income rate relief scheme could save carers who qualify for the measure up to an average £45 per year.

Mr Wilson wants carers to ensure they are are getting all the help they are entitled to and said the new scheme offered some additional support.

He added: "This will ensure that more households get help with their rates, as well as increase the amount of support provided to those currently in receipt of the carer premium and who are in receipt of some housing benefit or rate relief.

"For the vast majority of ratepaying households that are eligible, this will represent additional help to the relief they already receive through the existing low income rate relief scheme.

"It is anticipated that this measure will provide additional support to up to 2,500 people throughout Northern Ireland whilst acknowledging the very difficult financial situation that we are all in.

"Carers should ensure that they receive all the help to which they are entitled and I would take this opportunity to encourage people to apply, particularly if there has been a change in their circumstances or even if they may not have previously been eligible."

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An application form for housing benefit/rate relief can be obtained from Land & Property Services.

Helen Ferguson, director of Carers Northern Ireland, said: "We know from our own research that increasing numbers of carers are finding themselves in ever more difficult financial hardship.

"We believe this will be a simple and cost-effective way to improve the situation for some carers who are really struggling."

She joined the minister in urging carers to make sure that they take up all of the benefits and other entitlements available.

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