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To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether people are entitled to claim universal credit by telephone; and if she will place in the Library a copy of her Department's internal guidance for staff on accepting telephone claims for universal credit.
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what guidance her Department has issued on making a claim for universal credit by telephone.
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans she has to update the information on gov.uk that universal credit must be claimed online to include reference to non-digital or telephone claims.
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether written information on managing non-digital and telephone claims is (a) sent by post and (b) read over the telephone to universal credit claimants.
The Department takes seriously the need to support vulnerable claimants, and wants the application process for Universal Credit to be as quick and easy as possible, ensuring that claimants receive money at the earliest opportunity. It is designed to be a ‘digital-first’ service, ensuring we make best use of technology to deliver a modern and effective working-age welfare system, allowing our staff to concentrate on those people who require additional support.
We are already committed to placing Universal Credit guidance in the House’s Library and last updated it on 28 March 2019.
Our Universal Credit Claimant Survey, found that 98 per cent of claimants have internet access and did claim online, and the majority of those said they found the claim process overall to be straightforward. This can be accessed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-credit-full-service-claimant-survey
All Jobcentre Plus offices across the country have Wi-Fi and computers available for claimants to access the internet. For those that are still unable to access or use digital services, or are not able to travel, assistance to make and maintain their claim is available via the Freephone Universal Credit helpline – which is clearly displayed on GOV.UK.
Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice Scotland have been delivering the ‘Help to Claim’ service on a pilot basis since April 2019. The Citizens Advice Help to Claim service offers tailored, practical support to help people make a Universal Credit claim up to receiving their first full correct payment on time, and is available online, on the phone and face-to-face through local Citizen’s Advice services.
Although the Department offers comprehensive support for claimants to use our digital service, there will be occasions when people are unable to make their claim online, and so telephone applications can be accepted. In these instances, information normally available through a claimant’s online account, will be communicated in an alternative format which is best suited to an individual’s circumstances.