By design, Universal Credit is a much simpler system than that it replaces. It is easier for claimants to understand their entitlements and easier to administer. Nonetheless, we recognise that it represents a significant change for claimants, and some will find it challenging. That is why Universal Credit has an unprecedented level of personalised support for each claimant and there are a number of safeguards to support them, especially at the start of the claim. For example advances are available to help people manage until their first payment, this can amount to 50% of their indicative award and is payable straight away.
Furthermore, ‘Universal Support’ is being rolled out alongside Universal Credit and is being delivered via a framework approach to allow third sector organisations and Local Authorities to work with jobcentres to deliver the support needed in their local community. The aim is for claimants to receive integrated tailored support journeys and partners can achieve this through best use of local resources.
Part of this offer is budgeting support to help claimants manage their money on a monthly basis, pay bills on time and take responsibility for housing costs. Advice is offered by external organisations with the relevant expertise, online, by phone or face-to-face. Where claimants need help making a claim online, ‘assisted digital’ support is available as part of the package, alongside telephone and face to face support. And for claimants who cannot manage their money on a monthly basis alternative payment arrangements are available. These can include payment of rent direct to a landlord, paying Universal Credit more frequently or splitting the payment between members of the household.
When debt problems are identified then the claimant can be referred on or signposted to other more specialised debt support services