The Universal Credit Impact
Get help applying for Universal Credit
This advice applies to England
Table of contents
Our Help to Claim service
Our Help to Claim service can support you in the early stages of your Universal Credit claim, from the application, through to your first payment.
Help to Claim is a dedicated service from Citizens Advice. It’s free, independent and confidential. Our trained advisers can help with things like how to gather evidence for your application or how to prepare for your work coach appointment.
You can read our online advice on Universal Credit at any time.
Call our national phone line
You can contact an adviser through our free national Help to Claim phone service:
England: 0800 144 8 444
Wales: 08000 241 220
Scotland: 0800 023 2581
Advisers are available 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday. Call the Wales number if you’d like to speak to an Welsh language adviser.
Talk to us online
Chat lets you talk to a trained adviser online about your Universal Credit application process. Chat is usually available 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday. It’s not available on public holidays. If no advisers are available, the chat box won’t appear.
Talk to an adviser
If you want to chat to an adviser about any other issue, you can talk to us on our main chat page.
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Find your nearest Citizens Advice
Enter your postcode or town to get contact details and opening hours for your nearest Citizens Advice.
Complain about the Help to Claim service
You can use our complaints procedure if you want to complain about our Help to Claim service.
The Introduction of Universal Credit
Universal Credit is intended to simplify the benefits system by replacing six working age benefits with a single benefit payment.
It will affect 8 million households across England and Wales.
Citizens Advice has this year undertaken research to investigate the effect of its implementation on those who will be claiming it.
The principles behind Universal Credit are admirable – making work pay and having a more streamlined benefit rather than more complex multiple benefits.
In their reports Pop Goes the Payslip: Making Universal Credit work for families and Rebalancing Universal Credit – Making it Work for disabled people, Citizens Advice found that many disabled people and parents on low income will not see any financial gain if they increase their working hours and in some cases they will suffer financial loss.
Approximately 50% of those who come to Citizens Advice for advice will be affected by the implementation of Universal Credit and will need support to apply for the benefit and manage the change in the administration that the benefit involves. 90% of these clients are not ready for this change.
Universal Credit will be implemented fully in Poole in October 2017. Bournemouth’s implementation will be staggered with half the Borough seeing implementation in November 2017 and the remainder in January 2018.
With our support many of these clients can be guided successfully through this process. It is vital however that alongside the support we give to clients we continue to monitor the implementation of Universal Credit and highlight areas of inequity and difficulty.
As Advisors and Volunteers, we can do this through bureau evidence forms.
Areas that Universal Credit impacts are:
- Application process
- Problems with the administration of the benefit
- Difficulty and or expense in accessing helplines
- Delays in payment leading to financial hardship including debt
- Rent/mortgage arrears and potential homelessness
- The need to access Food Banks
- Increase in use of payday loans and loan sharks
- Difficulty for applicants securing rented accommodation due to landlords losing the “security” of direct payments from benefits agency and being paid directly by tenants.
- The increased inappropriate use of section 21 in the eviction of tenants due to landlords losing “security” of payments
- Tenants remaining in unsafe/unsuitable accommodation as they are fearful if they complain they will be evicted and they may not be able to find anywhere else to live
- The complexity of budgeting skills needed by claimants, especially those on zero hour contracts
- The affects of digital exclusion on a predominantly online accessed benefit
The implementation of Universal Credit has the potential to cause genuine hardship and suffering to some of the most vulnerable households in our area. By highlighting these issues through investigation of the reasons behind the difficulties our clients are facing, we do, however, have the opportunity to bring about positive change.