New county wide service to help with Universal Credit launched today

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Citizens Advice has launched a new service called ‘Help to Claim’ for those who need help to apply for Universal Credit in Oxfordshire.

Universal Credit (UC) is the fastest growing advice area for Citizens Advice Oxfordshire.

People will now be able to get support from the charity to submit their UC application to get a correct first full payment.

A recent survey by the charity found more than a third of people Citizens Advice has helped struggled to provide the evidence needed to complete their UC claim.

During the projects pilot phase 30 per cent of people applying needed help to set up an email account to start making the claim.

Al Bell, chief officer of Citizens Advice Oxford, said: “Today we’re launching a new service specifically for those who need help applying for Universal Credit.

“Our hope is that by providing in-depth support to make a claim, people will receive the full correct amount that they are entitled to faster, minimising the negative impacts the benefit is having on some of our most vulnerable residents. Incorrect and delayed payments are placing people at risk of homelessness and causing them to rely on food banks.

“We often see people who are losing out on up to £328/month because of administration errors. Any of us would struggle with a regular hit like that let alone people already on a minimum income.”

Since its introduction in Oxfordshire in October 2017 local Citizens Advice charities have helped 3,439 people with problems relating to UC with many relating to payment delays and wrong payments.

Help will be tailored to the individual and available, face-to-face, over the phone on 0800 144 8 444 and online through web chat on www.citizensadvice.org.uk.

This may include assistance with the online application form or help with providing evidence like childcare costs.

Citizens Advice revealed 1 in 2 UC claimants the charity helped nationally were in rent arrears or fell behind on their mortgage payments during the wait for first payment.