Universal Credit is on its way – but with the recent controversy surrounding it many may be worried about how it will affect them and whether they will cope with the process for applying.
However Felixstowe Citizens Advice have come to the rescue with new technology being installed at their offices in Orwell Rd and at the Library which will make it easier for the public to apply – especially if they don’t have access to the internet – or find on line applications difficult.
Universal Credit was introduced in May 2016 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. Applications can only be made online and claimants must have an active email address and bank account.
Universal Credit is being introduced gradually and the Full Service is set to be rolled out across Suffolk Coastal from June 2018, meaning that any new claims for older-style ‘legacy’ benefits would become claims for Universal Credit instead.
Two new public access terminals have been installed at the Citizens Advice office on Orwell Road in Felixstowe to give residents online access. They’ll be free to use, without a need for an appointment in the Bureau’s reception area.
Cllr TJ Haworth-Culf, cabinet member for Customers, Communities and Leisure, said: “By providing the new public access terminals through Citizens Advice, we hope they’ll help our residents who don’t have access to the internet apply for Universal Credit as well as providing support to those making their application.
“We’re very grateful of the work carried out by our local Citizens Advice offices as they’re a vital part of the community and they play a key role in supporting our residents through the introduction of this new service.
“We would encourage anyone worried about the changes to come and talk to them now to help prepare them for the new system.”
Graham Page, Manager of the Felixstowe Office, said: “We’re pleased to be offering the public these new terminals as it means we’re one step ahead of the Full Service roll out of Universal Credit.
“This has been a partnership effort as we work closely with Suffolk Coastal and the Department for Work and Pensions to make the process as seamless as possible.
“Along with this access, we will do what we can to help them people their claim and will be providing personal budgeting support to help alleviate the problems which have been learnt elsewhere, to make it a smooth process.
Universal Credit has replaced six ‘legacy’ benefits; Housing Benefit, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance.
Public access terminals are also available at Felixstowe and Woodbridge Libraries within Suffolk Coastal’s Customer Services, with staff available to help people get online.
Universal Credit is assessed and awarded by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Council has worked proactively with the DWP to support customers and communities with the rollout.
Find out more about Universal Credit at: www.eastsuffolk.gov.uk/universal-credit
Citizens Advice is at Felixstowe and Woodbridge Libraries every Monday morning from 10-12pm.
To find out more about how Citizens Advice can help you, visit: www.citizensadvice.org.uk