DUNDEE City Council has put a series of measures in place to assist people affected by the roll-out of Universal Credit.
As part of the UK Government’s Welfare Reforms, Universal Credit Full Service (UCFS) is introduced in Dundee today (November 8).
The new system will replace the six main benefits and tax credits: income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income-related employment support allowance, income support, child tax credits, working tax credits and housing benefit.
From today (November 8), working age residents (single, couples and families) who would previously have made a claim for any of these benefits must now make a claim for Universal Credit.
A report to go before the policy and resources committee on Monday states: “The impact of Welfare Reforms has required responses from a range of Council and voluntary services.
“The impacts of the different reforms has been varied, however the ability of Dundee residents to maintain their rent payments in respect of the private or social sector rents has been a high concern.”
The report states that the introduction of UCFS represents a significant change to the residents of Dundee. A number of clerical functions will be removed and replaced by claimants applying and updating information online.
Although delivery of Universal Credit is the responsibility of the Department of Work and Pensions, the move will have implications for the Council and many of its partners.
The report states: “Vulnerable clients in particular are likely to need advice and support as they are affected by the new arrangements.
“Many such individuals and families will naturally turn to the Council for assistance.”
Awareness sessions have already been held for voluntary sector groups and stakeholders throughout the city. Demand for these sessions has been “extremely high.”
An information booklet for prospective UC customers has been produced while, in partnership with Leisure and Culture Dundee, the Council has provided funding to support the recruitment of an additional member of staff at Central Library.
This staff member can provide support to people making and managing claims online.
The Council’s CONNECT team will continue to provide Personal Budgeting Support for any customers finding it difficult to manage the single monthly payment.
Training has also been provided to staff across the Council.
The report also notes that extra money will be made available through the hardship fund to help support council tenants to sustain tenancies and prevent homelessness.
Administration finance spokesman Councillor Willie Sawers said: “The roll-out of Universal Credit Full Service by the Department of Work and Pensions will have a negative impact on people across Dundee.
“The Council has implemented a wide range of measures to help citizens navigate their way through the new procedures.”
Experts at Sheffield Hallam University believe that Welfare Reforms will result in an estimated annual loss of £94million by 2021 within Dundee.
For more information about Universal Credit see https://www.dundeecity.gov.uk/welfare-reform/universal-credit
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