Universal Credit replaces Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, income based Job Seekers allowance, income related Employment and Support Allowance and Income Support. The scheme is due to be introduced to new claimants in October 2013.
As soon as information began to circulate, Ipswich DAB realised that this will not only be a huge change for our clients and Advisers in terms of the benefits themselves, but also in terms of the application method and our own methods of working with clients. Currently, most claims are submitted on paper forms filled in by Advisers by hand. Universal Credits have to be claimed online and an online account maintained, with claimants also receiving information in this access to a computer or the internet and 55 percent do not know how to use either or both.
In order to prepare ourselves and meet the needs of our clients, we applied through Suffolk Foundation, to the Improving Suffolk Fund for funding for Advisers to begin using online forms with some of our clients. This will enable both Advisers and clients to assess what their difficulties will be with the implementation of Universal Credit and what provision Ipswich DAB will need to make in order to continue to provide the same level of service to our clients. The study has the support of Ipswich Job Centre Plus.