Tips on how to best prepare for making a Universal Credit application have been shared after a report showed many people struggle to provide the right evidence.
Citizens Advice North Oxfordshire and South Northamptonshire has issued the advice after it was revealed a third of people helped by the charity did not have everything they needed to finish their application.
Pat Coomber-Wood, chief executive of the Banbury-based organisation, said: “Making an application for Universal Credit can be complex, and there are many different stages to get through before crossing the finish line.
“This new research shows that providing the right paperwork for extra costs is one of the stages which causes the most headaches for people.
“The Government should look at making it easier to provide evidence online and people should also be aware of what’s required of them so they receive their payment on time.”
Universal Credit is a new benefit which combines six benefits into one, including jobseeker’s allowance and working tax credits, that is currently being rolled out across the UK.
For many claimants, the benefit is working well, but a significant number of people are having difficulties, with many being paid late or not at all, particularly with the application.
In the first half of 2018, Citizens Advice North Oxon and South Northants helped 262 people with 459 Universal Credit-related problems.
Citizens Advice North Oxon and South Northants has the following advice for people making a claim for Universal Credit:
• Provide evidence as soon as possible to make sure you are paid in full and on time. If you need to apply for extra costs, like housing, you will need to show additional paperwork.
• Make sure you check you have completed all the stages of the claim. After making an initial online claim, you need to book a Jobcentre appointment. In total there are ten stages which need to be completed, some of which are time sensitive. If you miss a deadline, you might have to start the process again.
• If you get stuck, ask for help. If you are struggling to fill in the online application form or have problems providing the right paperwork, ask for help as soon as possible so your payment is not delayed.
A Department of Work and Pensions spokesman said: “Universal Credit simplifies an out-of-date, complex system and we welcome Citizens Advice finding that it is working well for the majority of claimants.
“We continue to listen to feedback and make any necessary improvements during the roll-out with our ‘test and learn’ approach and this report recognises the positive impact of changes we have already made.
“The vast majority of Universal Credit claimants are paid in full and on time and 100% advance payments can be made available within hours. We also fast track appointments for customers in need.
“We look forward to working collaboratively with Citizens Advice and others to ensure that the small minority who seek additional help making their claim are able to access it.”
To get advice online from Citizens Advice, or to find your local organisation, visit citizensadvice.org.uk.
To get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice on 03454 040506.