Support available for full roll out of Universal Credit in Waveney
- Credit: PA
People across Waveney are being offered support as the Universal Credit benefit system is rolled out fully next week.
Advice will be available at the Beccles and Lowestoft branches of the Citizens Advice Bureau and at Waveney District Council's Marina Centre in Lowestoft for people applying for the new system.
With Lowestoft being one of the first jobcentre areas in the country to deliver Universal Credit to its residents last year, the council is proactively working to ensure customers are fully aware of changes ahead of the full service roll-out for the majority of the district from Wednesday next week (October 18).
The Universal Credit scheme, which is assessed and awarded by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), is a single benefit which brings together six of the existing 'legacy benefits' to simplify the benefits system and help ensure people are better off in work. It is paid as a single monthly payment, similar to a wage.
Waveney was one of five councils in the country to first roll out the scheme in May last year. However, concerns were raised late last year it had left an increasing number of people in Lowestoft unable to pay their rent.
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Great Yarmouth was also one of the pilot areas.
But there were problems with claimants going without income for weeks and landlords not receiving rent – with Norfolk Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) warning the new benefit was putting people's financial security at risk.
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In Waveney, the council has worked proactively with the DWP to support people and communities with the changes. This has included the installation of public access terminals, funded by the council, at the Beccles and Lowestoft branches of CAB to help people complete their online applications. These terminals are also available at the Marina Centre, with support available from customer services staff.
The changes mean that, from October 18, most new claims for older-style legacy benefits made by people under pension age will now need to be applications for Universal Credit instead, which has to be applied for online. After October 18, the full service will be in effect across the whole of Waveney, with the exception of those living in the IP20 postcode where it is expected to be introduced next year.
With specially trained staff from Waveney District Council available to assist people with making and managing their claim online, the council also funds free Personal Budgeting Support for claimants through the Citizens Advice Bureau.
Craig Rivett, Waveney's cabinet member for customer services, said: 'We want to ensure our customers have the information they need about the benefit changes and that they feel supported throughout their application.
'We understand the application process can be challenging for some people, however we are able to assist our customers through their transition to Universal Credit and make sure they can access the help they need.'
To find out more about Universal Credit visit www.eastsuffolk.gov.uk/universal-credit