Citizens Advice Ashfield 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 Ashfield in October & November 2018.
Once Universal Credit has been fully implemented in Ashfield by 2023, 15000 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.
Of those who were surveyed:

  • 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.
Kathryn Stacey, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Ashfield, 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.”
Notes: Citizens Advice surveyed 678 Universal Credit claimants between November 2017 and June 2018. Additional responses from June 2017 to October 2017 were also used when looking at the impact of payment delays.

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