Thanks to Cllrs Danielle Stone and Zoe Smith who organised a successful community meeting in Abington where Sally Keeble spoke about Universal Credit.
Sally focussed on ways that community groups and organisations could support people affected by the benefit and signpost them to advice agencies.
People experienced difficulties with Universal Credit because:
- It has to be clamed online. Many people have problems with internet access and either can’t complete their claims, or have difficulty with the follow-up.
- There’s a five week delay before the first payment. People run into financial difficulties during this period. They don’t always know they can claim an advance payment, or are put off by the fact the payment is a loan. There have been particular problems with rent, and many people run up rent arrears.
- Payment is made once a month in a single payment, unless special arrangements are made.
- The conditions attached to Universal Credit may be onerous, and people have their benefits stopped if they fail to meet them.
- There are particular problems for people with disabilities, for carers.
Sally said that Citizen’s Advice Bureau and Community Law both run drop in advice sessions at the Guildhall for people who wanted help with Universal Credit. Both are excellent organisations – but there is huge demand for their services.
Sally’s undertaken some training on Universal Credit with a London council and is very happy to come and share what she’s learned with local groups and organisations.