To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what adjustments have been made to the (a) application and (b) journal process of universal credit to take account of people with (i) sight loss and (ii) visual impairment who are not able to use the default online process.
We want the application process for Universal Credit to be as quick and easy as possible to ensure that claimants receive their money at the earliest opportunity. The Department takes seriously the need to support vulnerable claimants. Comprehensive support is available to claimants to use our digital service, however we recognise there will be occasions when people are unable to make or maintain their claim online, so telephone support is available.
Universal Credit has been designed with a diverse range of claimants in mind, and has been reviewed in conjunction with the Royal National Institute for the Blind for accessibility needs. The Department communicates with customers in a variety of different formats such as Braille, audio, large print, through third party interpreters such as British Sign Language or non-spoken language.
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. The initial verification can include a home visit to support a claimant with making their claim and completing any other administrative tasks required to ensure that they receive the correct payment.
Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice Scotland have supported over 200,000 individuals through ‘Help to Claim’ since April 2019, offering tailored and practical support to help people make a Universal Credit claim up to receiving their first full correct payment on time. ‘Help to Claim’ is available online, on the phone and face-to-face in locations including Jobcentres and Citizen’s Advice Bureaux.
In addition, the Department will be bringing forward a Green Paper on health and disability support in the coming months. The Green Paper will explore how the welfare system can better meet the needs of claimants with disabilities and health conditions now and in the future, to build a system that people trust and enables them to live independently and move into work where possible.