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Money & Advice Universal Credit Roll-out

What does the roll-out of Universal Credit mean in practice?

With the roll-out of Universal Credit in the South East, it is even more important for those claiming benefits to have basic IT skills and literacy levels, as welfare reform has moved all benefit claims to an online-only service.

Towns such as Hastings, where Universal Credit has been rolled out, have already shown that there are problems with this switch to online-only services as not everybody has WIFI, IT equipment or the technical know-how to manage their claims online.

Another potential problem raised by the change to Universal Credit is the lack of support to help people manage their money effectively. People that have never worked, or been out of work for a long time and are used to receiving regular payments on a weekly basis, will now have to manage their money on a monthly cycle.

Universal Credit is paid into the claimant’s bank account which can cause another problem. Opening bank accounts without sufficient ID (passport or driving licence) or with no or bad credit history can be difficult. Most high street banks require two forms of ID, one with a photograph and one confirming the address. This can exclude people from accessing high street banks and therefore delay them receiving their benefits. Those affected tend to be the more vulnerable such as those without a permanent address or with a history of bad debt. This is where East Sussex Credit Union comes in as anyone can become a member and open an account to receive their benefits payments - no matter what their credit history or if they do not have a fixed address (a supporting agency, local authority or advice and support organisation would have to verify the applicants ID in this case).

For those recipients that have completed their Universal Credit application, there will then be a waiting period of at least six weeks for their benefit claim to be processed and for them receive their payments. As existing benefits are stopped when claimants switch to Universal Credit, this could mean that those switching over could be looking at around two months without any income from benefits, which could be a harrowing thought for those relying on this to pay their rent and basic shopping.

Eastbourne’s Trio of Support for the Universal Credit Roll Out

East Sussex Credit Union are partnering with two volunteering organisations in Eastbourne, to help ease the transition to Universal Credit for those needing help with the online claims process and opening accounts to receive their payments. This includes providing a space where local residents can access free WIFI at the Seaside Community Hub at 125 Seaside, plus they can receive free IT support and help from volunteers working with local company Helen Owen Marketing Enterprises (HOME) CIC.

Volunteers are available at the Seaside Hub every Wednesday and Thursday from 10am to 4pm to help people gain basic IT skills along with help to submit their Universal Claim online. Information regarding East Sussex Credit Union will also be available so everyone in the community so they can access the financial services they need to receive their payments and manage their money.

Need help with the switch to Universal Credit?

If you are switching to Universal Credit, or know someone who is, and need help opening an account to receive payments, visit our Universal Credit Help page where you can read all about setting up accounts with us and then accessing your money.

If you want to speak to someone in person, you can contact East Sussex Credit Union on 0300 303 3188 or visit our head office in Hove Town Hall, or any of our Help Points in Lewes, Eastbourne and Hailsham to talk to our staff about your needs.

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