On Monday Citizens Advice County Durham launched a new service called “Help to Claim” for those who need help to apply for Universal Credit in County Durham.
People will now be able to get support from the charity as they submit their Universal Credit application to get their first full payment.
Help will be tailored to the individual and available, face-to-face, over the phone 0800 144 8 444 and online through webchat and advice content citizensadvice.org.uk
This may include assistance with the online application form or help with providing evidence like childcare costs.
A recent survey by the charity found more than a third of people Citizens Advice has helped struggled to provide the evidence needed to complete their Universal Credit claim.
The charity has already helped 3000 people locally with problems relating to Universal Credit. Nationally, Citizens Advice has helped over 230,000 people with Universal Credit.
The Help to Claim service will be delivered through the Citizens Advice network across England and Wales. Citizens Advice Scotland will also be delivering the new service in Scotland.
Universal Credit is a new benefit that combines 6 benefits into 1, including Jobseekers Allowance and Working Tax Credits. It is now fully rolled out across the UK. When fully implemented, around 7 million people in England and Wales will be receiving Universal Credit.
Jess Arragon, Help to Claim Universal Support Project Manager of Citizens Advice County Durham, said: “Today we’re launching a new service specifically for those who need help applying for Universal Credit.
“We offer free, independent, impartial and confidential advice to people in the community every day and have developed an expertise in dealing with Universal Credit. We’ve seen first-hand what can happen when people struggle to make a claim and their payments are delayed.
“We encourage anyone who needs help with their application to get in touch with us either in-person, over the phone or over webchat citizensadvice.org.uk.”