St Helens ready for full Universal Credit roll-out

Jobcentre Plus
Jobcentre Plus

The benefits system in St Helens is being given a massive shake-up with the launch of the full service of Universal Credit.

Residents who previously claimed six separate benefits who make new claims from Wednesday have to apply to the new welfare payment.

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Existing claimants will then slowly be transferred across to Universal Credit (UC) as well, though there is currently no timeline for this.

Ahead of the roll-out the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said the benefits revolution would make the whole process simpler and emphasised the assistance available to residents.

Clive Morris, Jobcentre Plus business support manager, said: “Universal Credit offers tailored support, which includes more personalised help from a work coach.

"The new system is also more flexible, which means people can take on short-term work to develop their skills and build up their experience.

"There will be a much wider range of people than ever before brought into Universal Credit and we fully accept that will cause a lot questions.

"However, we have been working very hard with all our partner organisations in St Helens on this.

“Our staff are trained to support people throughout the claim process. We’d encourage anyone who needs extra help or information to come and talk to their work coach.”

Mr Morris said there was confidence in St Helens that the roll-out would go smoothly after reports of chaotic transfers elsewhere in the country earlier this year.

UC replaces income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, income-based Employment and Support Allowances, Working Tax Credits, Child Tax Credits and Housing Benefit.

It is hoped that as many people as possible will make and manage their claims online and those without internet access at home are urged to speak to the Jobcentre Plus.

The DWP says under UC claimants are better off when they move into work because the benefit gradually decreases as they earn more, smoothing the path to employment

As part of this, the Work Allowance - the amount someone can earn before their benefits are reduced – was raised by three per cent in April.

Families who move into work can claim back up to 85 per cent of their eligible childcare costs, potentially boosting their finances by over £13,000 a year.

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