Feeds

NI Auditor: Data sharing could mean more dosh for pensioners

Northern Ireland has so far found £14m in unclaimed oldsters' benefits

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Website security in corporate America

Initiatives including new technologies have helped identify £14m in unclaimed benefit entitlements for senior citizens in Northern Ireland, according to the Uptake of Benefits by Pensioners report by the province's audit office. But Kieran Donnelly, the chief auditor, has said that data sharing could help drive this figure up.

"To successfully reach all pensioners entitled to benefit, these public sector organisations must obtain better information on the extent of non-uptake, use data sharing to best effect and continue to work closely with the independent advisory sector," he said.

Work already underway includes targeting vulnerable and traditionally hard-to-reach clients through ICT and local media events staged by the For Your Benefit Project, Advice Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Electricity, according to the report.

It says that for the past four years Advice Northern Ireland has been working with HM Revenue & Customs to reach vulnerable groups, during which time the department has developed a range of tax credits and ICT tools for the purpose.

The province's Social Security Agency (SSA) has implemented an online benefit calculator and the provision of advice and information through the NI Direct website, as part of a £2.4m programme to increase the uptake of benefits. According to the report the exercises targeted more than 70,000 pensioners and resulted in additional annual benefit payments of £17.3m to this group.

The SSA said that its deployment of new technology through the Pensions Transformation Programme has resulted in more joined-up working and contributed to increasing uptake of benefits by pensioners, particularly State Pension Credit.

It also said that new technology, telephony and better operational processes have enabled more "joined-up working" between the state pension and state pension credit systems and increased awareness of benefit entitlement.

At the end of all state pension telephone claims, people are encouraged to make a claim for state pension credit, the SSA said.

The report says that about one in five Northern Ireland pensioners live in poverty and for many, benefits are a significant part of their income.

"Maximising benefit uptake can therefore contribute to tackling poverty," said Donnelly. "The relevant public sector bodies have done much to overcome the barriers to claiming benefits. While this is to be commended, more needs to be done."

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

Guardian Government Computing is a business division of Guardian Professional, and covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Bono: Apple will sort out monetising music where the labels failed
Remastered so hard it would be difficult or impossible to master it again
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.