The Welfare Benefits Unit has now changed its status to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation and their rebranding has vastly improved their online presence and ability for clients to get in touch.
Councillor Denise Craghill and I were welcomed warmly by chief executive Liz Wilson and Welfare Rights Advisors at their launch event at the Priory Street Centre on April 21st, met other benefit-industry workers and listened to some key updates… read on to find out more about Universal Benefit in particular.
The treasurer, Robert Jenkinson and founding member gave us some history and demonstrated to us what a, too often trivialised and ridiculed-think, ‘benefits porn’ reality TV shows- lifeline benefits truly are to people who are entitled to them but most importantly to not forget those who are entitled but who have not been afforded the necessary capabilities, even the knowledge, to know that they could get help.
Background: The Welfare Benefits Unit aims to promote benefit take-up, helping to reduce the incidence and impact of poverty and thereby improving health, well-being, financial and social inclusion. We offer specialist advice to welfare benefits advisors who work with members of the public. Our experienced team of advisers provide independent support through our advice line, publications, training and forums/talks, consultancy, campaigns, appeals and projects.
Universal Credit ‘Full Service’ rolling out…
The speaker from the DWP updated the Forum with the following key information about this benefit, which is means-tested and can be claimed if you are working age and on a low income, in or out of work:
29.06.16 in Harrogate, Richmond & Ryedale
26.10.16 in Craven & Hambleton
Throughout 2016, in 5x more Job Centres per month nationally, plus rural areas being tested
By 2017, in 50x more Job Centres per month, nationally
Who: All new customers who would claimed have Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-based Employment & Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit; people with COC and from 2018 the migration of those from the ‘legacy benefits’ listed above.
What: Digital system means claimants can-
- Open their account online
- Upload medical certificates online
- Change Of Circumstances online
- Smart phones & tablets too
- Assisted digital support
- Be independent.
Following a ‘Claimant Commitment Interview’ they can receive-
- Personal budgeting support
- Alternative payment arrangements
- Advance payments
- Welfare rights worker
- Work coach support (a named person throughout their claim working to keep them ‘close to the job market’ as far is possible.)
Universal Credit helpline: 0345 6000 723