Citizens Advice Purbeck is sharing tips on how people can best prepare for making a Universal Credit application so they can be paid on time.

This follows the release of a new report from national Citizens Advice which finds a third of people who were helped by the charity struggle to provide the evidence needed to finish off their Universal Credit application.

Universal Credit is a new benefit which combines six benefits into one, including Jobseeker’s Allowance and Working Tax Credits, which is currently being rolled out across the UK.

For many, the benefit is working well but a significant number are having difficulties with it. Since 17th January 2018 (when Purbeck joined the Universal Credit full service area) Citizens Advice Purbeck has helped people with almost 500 Universal Credit related problems.

Citizens Advice Purbeck has the following advice for anyone making a claim for Universal Credit:

  • Provide evidence as soon as possible to make sure you’re 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 10 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’re struggling to fill in the online application form or have problems providing the the right paperwork, ask for help as soon as possible so your payment isn’t delayed.

National Citizens Advice asked people the Citizens Advice service helped with Universal Credit how hard they found it to provide proof for extra costs, like housing and childcare.

Out of those who were surveyed:

  • 48% found it difficult to provide evidence for health conditions

  • 40% found it difficult to provide evidence for housing

  • 35% found it difficult to provide evidence for childcare

The research also shows that when people didn’t receive their first Universal Credit payment on time, their chances of being in debt increased by a quarter (23%). They were also 60% more likely to borrow money from a lender to help tide them over.

The report recommends that the government simplifies the claims process, makes it easier to provide evidence for extras costs, and ensure adequate support is on offer to people making claims.

Helen Goldsack, chief executive of Citizens Advice Purbeck, said: “Making an application for Universal Credit can be complex, and there are many different stages to get through.

“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.”

Anyone seeking support with their claim can ring Dorset Adviceline on 03444 111 444 or drop-in to a local outreach, details of which can be found on Citizens Advice Purbeck’s website: http://purbeckadvice.org.uk/our-services.html.