How South Tyneside Council is preparing for Universal Credit launch

Councillor John McCabe.
Councillor John McCabe.

A comprehensive programme will be presented to councillors next week ahead of the introduction of Universal Credit later this year.

The new a single monthly benefit payment for people in and out of work is already available to single people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, but it will be rolled out for all claimants from May.

Members of South Tyneside Council’s people select committee will hear next week that all Universal Credit applications must be made online and all claimants must have a bank account where payments can be made.

Committee members will also be told how the Welfare Support Service is performing. The team was established two years ago to support people with debt, benefits and budgeting issues. Last year they secured more than £3million for residents in the Borough.

A report to councillors highlights how the team has introduced increased telephone advice which will increase again in January to meet rising demand.

Staff are being re-trained to improve the capacity of the team to offer debt advice and handle benefits appeals.

The report adds that there are plans to improve the reporting of cases and reduce waiting times.

Coun John McCabe, chairman of the people select committee, said: “It is clear that the advice provided by this team is much in demand – even before the full roll-out of Universal Credit.

“We will continue to monitor the situation to make sure the right help is being provided to our residents.

“We are committed to doing all we can as a council to prepare people for the introduction of Universal Credit.”

The meeting is at at 10am January 9 in South Shields Town Hall. All are welcome.