Universal Credit and Initial Interview Wait Times With the outbreak of the Covid 19 virus there has been an exponential growth in new claims for Universal Credit, and this has led to a extended waiting time when phoning the Universal Credit phone number (0800 328 5644). Official guidance published by the DWP on a solution of this problem (https://www.universal-credit.service.gov.uk/orientation/uc?show=covid ), has been an internal movement of staff to cover the large increase of people attempting to get through to the advice line. Anecdotal evidence would suggest that the wait time has been in excess of four hours, so what can an individual do to avoid this delay in their claim ?.There is varying advice available depending on weather an online claim or telephone claim has been made. If an online claim has been made the DWP has suggested that a client uses the Digital Identification process, but this is not always practical, so in normal circumstances one would phone the DWP and book an ID Appointment at a local job center, but all appointments at job centers' have been suspended and all claims are using telephone appointments( this applies not only to Universal Credit, but all benefit claims, including JSA,ESA,Income Support, and disability benefit appointments). If you have an online claim advice is leave a message on the online journal and a member from the local job center will call back. The latest information from the DWP states " We are taking urgent action to boost capacity, including moving 10,000 existing staff to work on new claims with 1,000 already in place, and will recruit a further 1,500 staff to aid the effort." If it is a telephone claim there is no special phone number and you have to use the National number 08003285644; currently the opening hours for this service are 9.30 to 3.30 so it is advised to phone as early as practicable. For further assistance contact the Citizens Advice Advice Line on 03444 111 444, email at [email protected] or access our webchat service at https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/contact-us/contact-us/help-to-claim/.