From 1st April, East Suffolk residents will be able to receive help to claim Universal Credit under a new model provided by Citizens Advice.
Universal Credit, which is assessed and awarded by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), is a benefit for people who have not yet reached pension age which brings together six of the existing ‘heritage benefits’; Jobseekers Allowance, Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. It aims to simplify the benefits system and help ensure people are better off in work. It is claimed online and paid as a single monthly payment, direct to the customer, similar to a wage.
Currently, anyone living in East Suffolk who requires assistance to make or manage their claim for Universal Credit online can visit any of the Councils’ Customer Services centres where public access terminals and self-serve computers are available, with support available from Customer Service staff if necessary. Personal Budgeting Support to help people manage their new monthly payments is also available.
Following an announcement from the DWP in October last year, this service – which will be known as ‘Help to Claim’ - will become the responsibility of Citizens Advice from 1st April 2019. From this date, customers needing support should contact their local Citizens Advice centre; a national telephone helpline and web chat service will also be available.
In a joint statement, Cllr TJ Haworth-Culf, Suffolk Coastal’s Cabinet Member for Customers, Community and Leisure and Cllr Craig Rivett, Waveney’s Cabinet Member for Customer Services, said:
“East Suffolk was one of the first areas to implement support for those claiming Universal Credit and by sharing our learning with Citizens Advice, we are confident that the new service will provide our customers with the support they need.”
Universal Credit has been fully rolled-out nationally; at present it only needs to be claimed by those that have had a change in their circumstances which would have previously resulted in a new claim being made for one of the six benefits that Universal Credit replaces.
The self-serve computers will continue to be available at the Councils’ Customer Service centres in Lowestoft, Beccles, Felixstowe and Woodbridge. To find other locations with computers or free WiFi, please check the digital map.