For Immediate Publication
Citizens Advice Reigate and Banstead (CARBS) has kept its successful Help to Claim service going for residents who need to apply for Universal Credit.
They help with everything from application to first payment.
Trained advisers give confidential support from their own homes via phone and webchat. They can help with establishing eligibility, completing the online application or presenting evidence.
People make contact by calling 0800 144 8 444, by email or webchat at www.carbs.org.uk
Research by national Citizens Advice shows 20% of UK adults say they have applied or expect to apply for benefits as a result of coronavirus.
In the past year CARBS has helped over 1400 residents with Universal Credit. Nationally, a quarter of a million people have benefited from Help to Claim.
Andrea Dunhill, CARBS Chief Executive, said:
“We know many households are struggling to make ends meet in the crisis. People are having to turn to social security who’ve never used it before. It’s more important than ever they can get support, so we rapidly changed our system to deliver Help to Claim remotely.
“We provide free, independent, confidential advice to local people every day. We’ve seen first-hand what can happen when people struggle to claim Universal Credit, so we know how vital our service is to them.
“We say to anyone who needs help to claim: ‘Please get in touch by phone or webchat. You don’t have to face this alone.’”
Notes for Editors
1) Universal Credit became the default benefit for Surrey claimants in its scope in April 2019.
2) Universal Credit Help to Claim is a service funded by the Department of Work and Pensions and delivered by Local Citizens Advice.
3) Universal Credit was introduced in 2013 to replace six existing benefits including Job Seekers Allowance, the main unemployment benefit. By contrast with those ‘legacy’ benefits, applications are made online and payments calculated in real time to reflect the individual claimant’s changing circumstances.
4) Its roll-out to all regions was slower than planned due to problems with application and payment processes. It’s still not complete, but there have been steady improvements. The system has coped well with the huge increase in claimants caused by the coronavirus crisis.
5) Citizens Advice provides full information about Universal Credit online.