City Council to provide extra support to help residents with Universal Credit
Winchester City Council has committed to providing extra support to all residents affected by the roll-out of the government’s Universal Credit.
Universal Credit started at the Winchester Job Centre on the 4th July 2018 but you will only be affected if you are working age and are making a new claim for benefits. Southampton and Eastleigh Job Centres rolled out Universal Credit last year. It will be introduced at other job centres across the District at later dates this year.
Universal Credit is a monthly payment, which replaces benefits such as Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support, Employment Support Allowance, Working and Child Tax Credits and Housing Benefit.
If a change in a person’s circumstances requires a new claim to be made for any of these benefits then Universal Credit may need to be claimed. There are numerous circumstances in which this would occur and advice should be sought at https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/, or if your circumstances are complex and you need to speak to someone please call the Universal Credit free helpline on 0800 328 5644.
Winchester City Council has introduced a team to assist residents with digital support and targeted personal budgeting, as well as helping those who may need assistance with claims. This team will support claimants in a way that suits them and has the capability to provide home visits to those that need them or to meet at mutually agreed locations, ensuring help is provided across the District.
Practical support will also be available from the Council including alternative ways to pay rent, short term loans and special arrangements for vulnerable claimants.
However, the Council does stress that the operation of Universal Credit is regulated and operated by the Department for Work and Pensions and all claims are made directly with them.
Portfolio Holder for Professional Services, Cllr Stephen Godfrey, said:
“We know some residents will be understandably worried about Universal Credit, and it is key that we provide support.
“It is important that all our residents know how to claim and how to use digital technology to make and manage their claims. We are also going much further by providing a broad range of services to help residents to manage their finances effectively following the roll-out of Universal Credit. Anyone affected should contact the city council early so that we have the opportunity to help.”
You can find out more information about Universal Credit on the government website www.gov.uk/universal-credit
If residents have questions or need help to make a claim they should call the Universal Credit free helpline on 0800 328 5644. To claim Universal Credit they will need a bank account, an email address and access to the internet. A new claim can only be submitted online at www.gov.uk/universal-credit/how-to-claim
If any residents are unfamiliar with using a computer or the internet and need help to make a claim online or set up an email address then they can contact Tenancy Support at the Council on 01962 848 332. They can also receive assistance to manage their money and pay their bills on time at this contact or email Tenancysupport@winchester.gov.uk. This service is provided to everyone including Council tenants, tenants of housing associations, private landlords and owner/occupiers.