Citizens Advice Universal Support Service
Universal Credit (UC) is the fastest growing advice issue for the Citizens Advice service and Local Citizens Advice offices everywhere. Since the roll out began, we’ve helped nearly 150,000 people across England and Wales moving to the new system. Over the last few years we’ve worked together as a service to urge government to fix the problems people are having with UC – improving the support available to people making a claim has been a vital part of that.
The evidence we’ve collected together has demonstrated that the support currently available is patchy, and isn’t addressing the problems people are having with making and managing a claim.
The Government reviewed Universal Support and came to the conclusion that fundamental changes are needed to the structure of the funding for support services, to ensure it is used in the most effective way possible to support people moving on to Universal Credit.
In October, the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) came to an agreement with Citizens Advice nationally to fund Universal Support. This will be delivered by Local Citizens Advice offices like Citizens Advice Telford & the Wrekin.
How the service will work
The service provides an end-to-end claims support service across England, Wales and Scotland (delivered by Citizens Advice Scotland) to be available online, over the phone and in person.
As part of this grant agreement Citizens Advice committed to delivering a nationally consistent service in all areas of England and Wales. They will be working with every local Citizens Advice (each of which is a locally supported registered charity) to deliver this commitment.
The service will officially go live nationally from April 2019 but starts sooner than that in Telford & the Wrekin as Universal Credit goes to full service on 14th November. We are therefore recruiting a team to deliver the different elements of the Universal Support service for UC claimants; personal budgeting support, digital assistance and support via telephone and webchat.
The Universal Support service
The design of the Universal Support service is based on a holistic customer journey across online, phone and face to face. We know from the evidence collected from around the UK that this is the type of service we need to offer to meet the changing – and increasing – needs of our clients.
It also marks a new approach in the way we’re working with funders to sustain vital services in crucial advice areas. Our strong voice on Universal Credit led the DWP to ask us to deliver a solution for some of the problems we’ve identified. We’ve put this service together on that basis – putting the needs of our clients first.
Preserving our impartiality
In accepting this money from the government, Citizens Advice has been clear that it won’t in any way affect our impartiality. We’ll continue to speak up on Universal Credit as we do on all the issues that matter most to our clients. In particular, we want to ensure that the process of moving people from legacy benefits to Universal Credit through managed migration works for our clients, including the most vulnerable. Delivering the Universal Support service will give us even greater insight into how Universal Credit is working and increase our opportunities to raise our evidence with the government.
Citizens Advice Telford & the Wrekin
Universal Credit goes full service in Telford & the Wrekin on 14th November. We will be rolling out the new Universal Support delivery over the next few weeks and working out what claimants need and where they need it. We know that many claimants will need help with budgeting as Universal Credit is paid monthly instead of weekly or fortnightly. This is part of the new service.
All new UC claims will be made online (with a few exemptions) and so we will be providing digital assistance. This could be anything from where to use a computer at community venues, to help with applications from one of our Digital Champions, to full assistance to complete the online application process.
We will be doing sessions at the Job Centre so that anyone with Universal Support needs can find us at that first point of contact. We will then be offering personal budgeting appointments and digital assistance from our Tan Bank office, our outreach at First Point Council offices and through outreach in the community.
Annual Review and Accounts now available
We recently held our Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 31st October 2018 at 5:30pm at Meeting Point House, Southwater Square, Telford TF3 4HS.
More funding for Trusted Assessor work
We have recently heard that we have been granted money from the Nationwide Building Society to expand the work we have been doing with our partners Age UK and Taking Part around assistive technology. Our “trusted assessors” are trained by Telford & Wrekin Council to be able to do an assessment of someone’s needs for small household and personal adaptations costing under £1,000 such as raised toilet seats – we can then arrange with the Council for the item to be supplied and even sometimes deliver it directly. Small pieces of equipment can make a big difference when people are struggling with ill-health or disability.
Staff from Age UK and Taking Part will be on this project and be based at our Tan Bank offices. We will also be working very closely with the Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS). When the SFRS do one of their Fire Safety home visits, they will be looking to help identify people for whom low-level small physical adaptations (under £1,000) can help. Age UK will work with people from 65 upwards and Taking part will be doing assessments for working-age adults. This additional service will run from 1st October 2018 to 30th September 2019. To access this service, people should ring My Choice on 01952 459252 or email email@example.com
Are you aged 50 or over with a Pension based on how much has been paid
into your pot (a Defined Contribution)?
Would you like free, impartial, and confidential guidance about the options
available for your pension? Then call:
For a face-to-face appointment call our Pension Wise Delivery Centre on:
Appointments available in:- Shrewsbury, Ludlow, Oswestry, Whitchurch & Telford.
What will my appointment cover?
Your appointment will last about 45 minutes.
Your trained guidance specialist will explain:
• What you can do with your pension pot and the different options you have
• Other things you need to consider including tax and benefits
• the key points for each option, taking into account your circumstances
• Practical next steps and things to think about before you decide what to do
• How you can shop around to get the best deal and avoid pension scams
Pension Wise provides impartial guidance, not regulated financial advice.
It won’t recommend any products or tell you what to do with your money.