Citizens Advice has today announced the launch of its new ‘help to claim’ Universal Credit service, which will provide free and impartial advice to people who need help to claim Universal Credit.
People using the service will be able to access advice on anything to do with applying for the new benefit, including gathering the required evidence, filling in the application or preparing for their first jobcentre appointment.
The service is funded by £39 million from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and will be provided by Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice Scotland for Universal Credit claimants.
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Amber Rudd said: “One of the best things about Universal Credit is its flexibility. It recognises that everyone is different and it’s not a one-size-fits-all benefit.
“So for anyone who needs that little bit of extra help to make their claim, new help is now here.
“In addition to the support Jobcentre Plus staff already provide, Citizens Advice will now deliver high quality, independent advice through Help to Claim.”
Citizen’s Advice says 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 charity has already helped more than 230,000 people with Universal Credit since its introduction, with a recent survey suggesting that around a third of claimants seen by the charity struggle to provide the evidence needed to complete their Universal Credit claim.
The help to claim service can be accessed any time until a claimant receives their first full Universal Credit payment, which takes a minimum of five weeks to arrive in a persons bank account.
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.”