Citizens Advice launches new service for people applying for Universal Credit

On 1st April Citizens Advice 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 through to getting their first full payment.  The Help to Claim service is funded by £39 million from the Department of Work and Pensions and is a free, independent, impartial and confidential service.

Universal Credit is a new benefit that combines 6 benefits into 1, including Jobseekers Allowance, income-related Employment Support Allowance, income-related Job Seekers Allowance, Housing Benefit and Child and Working Tax Credits. It is now fully rolled out across the UK so that most people in receipt of these benefits who experience a change of circumstances in employment, housing or relationships are likely to have to apply for Universal Credit.  When fully implemented, around 7 million people in England and Wales will be receiving Universal Credit.  A recent national survey by Citizens Advice found more than a third of people struggled to provide the evidence needed to complete their Universal Credit claim and the charity has already helped more than 230,000 people with Universal Credit since its introduction.  

The Help To Claim team at Citizens Advice Isle of Wight are able to offer face-to-face support and advice at the Isle Help Centre, Newport and at other community sessions throughout the Island. Help is also available over the telephone 0800 144 8 444 or you can chat online at .  To date the team have assisted people with creating email accounts, setting up Universal Credit online user accounts, assistance in obtaining housing information, advice regarding moving from tax credits to Universal Credit, help to liaise with job centre coaches and help to set up joint claims – Universal Credit is now applied to the household rather than the individual. They can help with all aspects of the initial claim either providing general advice or guiding and supporting through the whole process dependent on the level of support each individual needs.

Photograph – Clive Bolland, Help to Claim Adviser, Citizens Advice IW and Heidi Widgery, Newport Jobcentre Customer Services Manager.  Clive is sat at a desk with a laptop in front of him and a posted with Help To Claim on it next to him. On the otheHeidi Widgery, Customer Services Manager at Newport Jobcentre (pictured) said "We are really pleased to be able to be working with Citizens Advice on this new project. It’s a great partnership that will benefit Island residents with initial Universal Credit applications". 

“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.”

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice

Photograph – Clive Bolland, Help to Claim Adviser, Citizens Advice IW and Heidi Widgery, Newport Jobcentre Customer Services Manager