Residents claiming Universal Credit are to be provided with help and support to get set up on a new full service digital programme.
The support is to be provided through a team effort between Cheshire West and Chester Council, Citizens Advice Cheshire West and the Department For Work and Pensions.
The Universal Credit live service started in the Cheshire West and Chester region in 2014.
The full service digital programme is rolling out now in the Chester area and will roll out to the rest of the borough in December. The full service will enable residents to have an online Universal Credit account where they can manage their claim easily.
Cllr David Armstrong, finance and legal, said: “The council has funded three posts within the Citizens Advice Cheshire West to provide dedicated support to residents.
“People will be able to receive support on making and maintaining claims, managing payments and personal debts and personal budgeting. We want to ensure residents are aware of the change and have the help they need to get set up on the new system.
“Universal Credit recipients can also apply for additional financial support and mentoring through the council’s discretionary funds. ”
Paul Nicholls, CEO of Citizens Advice Cheshire West, said “Residents can attend any Citizens Advice office in the Cheshire West and Chester borough for advice and guidance on the scheme.
“You may also apply for Universal Credit if you are self-employed and meet certain eligibility criteria. We have offices in Chester, Ellesmere Port, Northwich and Winsford.
“We provide outreach services in the following local communities on select days and times: Frodsham; Lache and Neston. Our experienced team of advisers also provide additional support to residents when completing the online form.”
Universal Credit is the single monthly benefit payment for working age people who are on a low income or out of work. This new benefit system is being introduced in the UK in stages. It replaces income support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related employment and support allowance, housing benefit and tax credits.
The Universal Credit ‘full’ service digital programme is expected to be in place across the whole of the UK by September 2018.
For more information on Universal Credit visit your local Citizens Advice office. Alternatively, you can visit local libraries and workzones in the borough, where you can access computers to complete the online application and receive support with your application if needed.
Applications for discretionary payments or personal budgeting support can be made by phoning 0300 123 7065. To apply online for Universal Credit, please visit www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit