On Monday the UK Government Secretary of State for Work and Pensions announced that her department will fund the Citizens Advice network in Scotland (alongside Citizens Advice England and Wales) to deliver a comprehensive, enhanced support service helping people to make a Universal Credit claim.
The support scheme will help claimants through every step of the first five weeks of making a Universal Credit claim. It will offer people the comprehensive and practical support they need to get their first payment on time and be ready to manage it when it arrives.
By 2023 over 7 million households across Great Britain will be receiving Universal Credit - over half of which will be in work. While some people are able to make a successful Universal Credit claim without support, the evidence shows that many others are struggling to navigate the system.
The UK Government’s evidence shows that 1 in 6 people don’t receive their full payment on time, mostly because they have difficulties making their claim. The majority of the thousands of people across Scotland that the Citizens Advice network in Scotland has helped with Universal Credit issues since it was introduced have been seeking help to complete their claim.
In recognition of this, the Department for Work and Pensions has now asked the network to deliver a more comprehensive and consistent support service, independent of Government, to help ensure everyone can access the support they need to complete a Universal Credit claim - no matter where they live.
In the coming months we will work with local organisations, including Jobcentres and local authorities, to ensure this new service meets the needs of local people. From April 2019 the new service will be available to everyone in Scotland, Wales and England (with our sister organisation - Citizens Advice England and Wales - delivering outside Scotland).
Derek Mitchell, CEO of Citizens Advice Scotland said:
"In person through local CAB, by phone and online, our network offers top quality advice and support to people applying for Universal Credit in Scotland. This announcement brings an opportunity to further enhance the support we provide, and we are pleased that the impact Universal Credit has on potential applicants – and on local CAB services in Scotland – has been recognised.
"We expect the numbers of people in need of independent advice on Universal Credit applications will continue to increase, and delivering this service will help us as we do all we can to meet that need. We will continue the work that the Citizens Advice network in Scotland has always done: supporting individuals to resolve the problems they face, and advocating nationally to address the root causes of those problems."
Members of the public can find out more about the support available for them on Universal Credit at their local CAB.
Members of the Citizens Advice network in Scotland can find information about this development, and access the support pack for managers, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.