Citizens Advice Stevenage is flagging problems with the application process for Universal Credit, following the release of new report from national Citizens Advice.
The report finds that although the benefit is working well for many, a significant number have problems with the application process. A third of people who’ve been helped by the charity say they struggle to provide the evidence needed to finish off their Universal Credit application.
Universal Credit is a new benefit which combines 6 benefits into 1,including Jobseeker’s Allowance and Working Tax Credits. It is currently being rolled out across the UK, and will be introduced in Stevenage in October 2018.
Once Universal Credit has been fully implemented in Stevenage by 2023, 11,000 of people are expected to receive it.
National Citizens Advice asked people the Citizens Advice service helped with Universal Credit how hard they found it to provide proof for extra costs, like housing and childcare.
● 48% found it difficult to provide evidence for health conditions
● 40% found it difficult to provide evidence for housing
● 35% found it difficult to provide evidence for childcare
The charity also found that people receiving their first full payment late stood a higher chance of getting into greater debt, or falling into it. When people didn’t receive their first Universal Credit payment on time, their chances of being in debt increased by a quarter (23%). They were also 60% more likely to borrow money from a lender to help tide them over.
The report recommends that the government simplifies the claims process, makes it easier to provide evidence for extras costs, and makes sure adequate support is on offer to people making a claim.
Nina Villa, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Stevenage, said:
“Universal Credit is working for most people, but a significant number are having problems completing their claim.
“This new research shows that providing evidence for extra costs is a common stumbling block when making an application, and can put the brakes on people being paid on time.
“The government should make it easier to provide evidence online and ensure people are made aware of what’s required of them so they receive their payment on time.”
Call 03444 111444 for advice or visit the website, www.stevenagecab.org.uk for further information