South Tyneside Citizens Advice has launched a new service called “Help to Claim” for those who need help to apply for Universal Credit.
Universal Credit is a new on-line benefit that combines six benefits into one, including Jobseekers Allowance, Employment & Support Allowance, Working Tax Credits and Housing Benefit.
It is now fully rolled out across the UK and when fully implemented around 7 million people in England and Wales will be receiving Universal Credit.
People will now be able to get support from the charity as they submit their on-line Universal Credit application to get their first full payment.
South Tyneside Citizens Advice has already helped 1,079 people with 4,578 issues locally with problems relating to Universal Credit. Nationally, Citizens Advice has helped over 230,000 people with Universal Credit.
As part of the national Citizens Advice campaign, local Jobcentre Offices will be able to direct customers to Citizens Advice for assistance to make a Universal Credit claim.
Help will be tailored to the individual and available, face-to-face, over the phone through a National Helpline 0800 144 8 444 and online through webchat and internet at citizensadvice.org.uk.
Anyone needing help to claim Universal Credit can also call South Tyneside Citizens Advice Universal Credit Team on 07983295428 to arrange an appointment.
A recent survey by Citizens Advice found more than a third of people helped by Citizens Advice struggled to provide the evidence needed to complete their on-line Universal Credit claim.
Ian Thompson Chief Officer of South Tyneside Citizens Advice said: “The new service has been launched specifically for those who need help applying for Universal Credit.
“We offer free, independent, impartial and confidential advice to people in the community every day and have developed an expertise in dealing with Universal Credit. Unfortunately we have seen first-hand what can happen when people struggle to make a claim and their payments are delayed.
“We encourage anyone who needs help with their Universal Credit application to get in touch with us for advice and assistance.