MILLIONS of people on Universal Credit can now get extra help to avoid having payments delayed.
The new £39million government-funded “Help to Claim” service is being run by Citizens Advice and will provide support to Brits as soon as they submit a UC application.
Getty – Contributor Thousands of people have had payments delayed due to the complex application process
Thousands of applicants end up being out of pocket each year due to the complex application process.
Help from a dedicated Citizens Advice will be available face-to-face, over the phone or online.
It could include support in making an initial application or guidance with providing evidence for payments, such as childcare costs.
Citizens Advice has already helped 230,000 people since Universal Credit was introduced.
Gillian Guy, from Citizens Advice, said: “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.
How to contact the ‘help to claim’ service
– Visit: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/helptoclaim/
– Call: England 0800 144 8 444, Wales 08000 241 220 or Scotland 0800 023 2581
Advisers are available 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday. Call the Wales number if you’d like to speak to an Welsh language adviser.
“We’ll use that knowledge to continue to call for improvements so the Universal Credit system works for the people we help.”
Universal Credit, which rolls six payments into one, has been criticised for failing thousands of people.
That’s why The Sun launched its Make Universal Credit Work campaign, as we want to people to be paid faster, by reducing the amount of time payments start from five weeks down to two.
On Universal Credit working parents get 85 per cent of childcare costs paid – but they have to claim for these in arrears.
We want these paid upfront to help parents get back to work faster.
We also believe that the harsh taper rate – which currently sees hard-working Brits taxed 63p for every £1 they earn over a certain amount – should be reduced and the work allowance increased, so people can keep more of what they earn.
The Sun wants to Make Universal Credit WorkUniversal Credit replaces six benefits with a single monthly payment.One million people are already receiving it and by the time the system is fully rolled out in 2023, nearly 7 million will be on it.
But there are big problems with the flagship new system – it takes 5 weeks to get the first payment and it could leave some families worse off by thousands of pounds a year.
And while working families can claim back up to 85 per cent of their childcare costs, they must find the money to pay for childcare upfront – we’ve heard of families waiting up to 6 months for the money.
Working parents across the country told us they’ve been unable to take on more hours – or have even turned down better paid jobs or more hours because of the amount they get their benefits cut.
It’s time to Make Universal Credit work. We want the government to:
Get paid faster: The Government must slash the time Brits wait for their first Universal Credit payments from five to two weeks, helping stop 7 million from being pushed into debt.
Keep more of what you earn: The work allowance should be increased and the taper rate should be slashed from from 63p to 50p, helping at least 4 million families.
Don’t get punished for having a family: Parents should get the 85 per cent of the money they can claim for childcare upfront instead of being paid in arrears.
Together, these changes will help Make Universal Credit Work.
Join our Universal Credit Facebook group or email UniversalCredit@the-sun.co.uk to share your story.
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.”
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There’s a little known grant that people on Universal Credit can get – known as the Flexible Support Fund – which can help with travel and childcare costs, plus you don’t have to pay it back.
Anyone on Universal Credit can get a budgeting loan worth up to £812 if they need help with moving house, travelling to and from work or can’t pay their rent.
If you’re worried about whether your benefits payment will be delayed by the Easter holidays – check our guide.
We’ve also written about three calculators which you can use to make sure you’re getting all the money you’re owed in benefits.
The Sun speaks to locals of Morecambe Bay on their struggle with Universal Credit
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