Top tips for residents in preparation for ‘Full-Service’ Universal Credit

by | 5 December 2017 | Citizens Advice, Retford, Worksop

Many people in Bassetlaw will be transferred over to Universal Credit due to a change in their circumstances or when applying for a new benefit from 13th December.  By 2022 Universal Credit will affect 13,000 households across Bassetlaw.

Across the country one in four (28%) working age households will be claiming Universal Credit, more than half of which (54%) will be in employment. The benefit will also be claimed by more than half (52%) of all families with children in the UK and six in 10 (58%) households where an adult is disabled or has a long term health condition.
In a major new report — Delivering on Universal Credit — national Citizens Advice has revealed that the requirement to wait for six weeks to receive any payment means people face serious financial insecurity, with many being forced into debt.

The research also identifies a wide range of administrative challenges, including problems with the online system and long waits to get help over the phone, which can make the initial six-week wait even longer.

The report also reveals that people are having problems with the new online application process. These range from difficulties using a computer, to issues getting hold of the right evidence to support their claim. The charity also highlights that, unless addressed, these challenges will undermine the goals of Universal Credit: to simplify the benefits system and offer people the security and support they need to move into and progress in work.

How it works
Universal Credit will replace the following means-tested benefits for working age people:

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-based Employment Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Housing benefit (HB)
  • Income Support (IS)
  • Child Tax Credits (CTC)
  • Working Tax Credits (WTC)

People who are self-employed will need to keep UC informed of their income each month and report their ‘cash-in, cash-out’; otherwise their claim is likely to be suspended.

All claims for Universal Credit are made online. Claimants will need an email account to make the claim, will be asked to create a password and answer two security questions and know these for the future. They will be required to attend an interview at the Jobcentre to complete the claim. After a claim, each individual will have an account, on which there is a journal, where they can write messages to Universal Credit to notify of any changes and record activities, such as job-seeking.

You won’t usually be paid for the first seven days (known as ‘waiting days’). You will usually receive your first payment after the end of your first assessment period and then be paid on the same date each month.

Locally, the Job Centre is working to support claimants who need help to make a claim to prevent people from long delays with their benefit payments.

Stephen Saddington Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Bassetlaw said: “The principles behind Universal Credit are sound, but as a new service, it is not without its flaws. We are working with the Department of Work and Pensions to address these issues with the aim to prevent hardship to individuals affected by the changes to the Welfare Benefits system.

“If anyone does run into problems with Universal Credit, don’t hesitate to contact Citizens Advice Bassetlaw for help.”
For information and advice, contact Citizens Advice Bassetlaw on their telephone service, 03444 111 444. A drop-in service is available at the Worksop office based in The Annexe, Queens Building, Potter Street, Worksop (next to the Savoy Cinema) on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9.30am to 3.00pm and on Fridays from 9.30am to 1.00pm and at the Retford outreach office, 17b The Square, Retford on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10.00am to 2.00pm.