Waveney residents are encouraged to take advantage of council support in preparation for the full roll-out of Universal Credit next week.
With Lowestoft being one of the first job centre areas in the country to deliver Universal Credit to its residents, Waveney District Council is proactively working to ensure customers are fully aware of changes ahead of the full service roll-out for the majority of the district from Wednesday 18 October.
Universal Credit, which is assessed and awarded by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), is a new single benefit which brings together six of the existing ‘legacy 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 paid as a single monthly payment, direct to the customer, similar to a wage.
The changes mean that, from 18 October, most new claims for older-style legacy benefits made by people under pension age will now need to be applications for Universal Credit instead, which has to be applied for online.
Cllr Craig Rivett, Waveney’s Cabinet Member for Customer Services, said:
“We want to ensure our customers have the information they need about the benefit changes and that they feel supported throughout their application.
We understand that the application process can be challenging for some people, however we are able to assist our customers through their transition to Universal Credit and make sure they can access the help they need.”
Specially trained staff from Waveney District Council are available to assist customers with making and managing their claim online and the Council also funds free Personal Budgeting Support for claimants through the Citizens Advice Bureau.
The Council has worked proactively with the DWP to support customers and communities with these changes. This includes the installation of public access terminals, funded by the Council, at the Beccles and Lowestoft branches of the Citizens Advice Bureau to help people complete their online applications. Public access terminals are also available at the Marina Customer Services Centre in Lowestoft, with support available from customer services staff.
After 18 October, the full service will be in effect across the whole of the Waveney district, with the exception of those living in the IP20 postcode where it is expected to be introduced next year.
Find out more about Universal Credit at www.eastsuffolk.gov.uk/universal-credit