Today Citizens Advice has launched a new service called “Help to Claim” for those who need help to apply for Universal Credit.
People will now be able to get support from the charity as they submit their Universal Credit application to get their first full payment.
Help will be tailored to the individual and available face-to-face, over the phone and online through webchat and advice content. This may include assistance with the online application form or help with providing evidence such as childcare costs.
The service is funded by £39 million from the Department of Work and Pensions.
A recent survey by the charity found more than a third of people Citizens Advice has helped struggled to provide the evidence needed to complete their Universal Credit claim.
The charity has already helped more than 230,000 people with Universal Credit since its introduction. Citizens Advice offers free, independent, impartial and confidential advice, with benefits the top issue for which people come for help.
The Help to Claim service will be delivered through the Citizens Advice network across England and Wales. Citizens Advice Scotland will be delivering the new service in Scotland.
Universal Credit is a new benefit that combines 6 benefits into 1, including Jobseekers Allowance and Working Tax Credits. It is now fully rolled out across the UK. When fully implemented, around 7 million people in England and Wales will be receiving Universal Credit.
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:
“Today we’re launching a new service specifically for those who need help applying for Universal Credit.
“We offer free, independent, impartial and confidential advice to millions of people every year, and have already helped more than 230,000 people with Universal Credit. We’ve seen first-hand what can happen when people struggle to make a claim and their payments are delayed.
“Delivering this new service will give us even greater insight into people’s experiences. We’ll use that knowledge to continue to call for improvements so the Universal Credit system works for the people we help.”