Ipswich Citizens Advice are here to offer FREE help and support.
Ipswich Citizens Advice is finding that many people are worried about how the welfare reform changes will affect them and how to claim the benefits they are entitled to. In particular, the constant news coverage around Personal Independence Payments (PIP) is alarming people claiming Disability Living Allowance (DLA) as they are concerned that they will lose their benefits.
DLA claimants who were born after 8 April 1948 and are 16 or over will be invited to claim PIP at some point over the next few years. There is currently no clear guidance from The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) as to when this will happen.
The DWP will write to claimants and invite them to apply for PIP. The process will involve completing a form on how their condition affects their ability to carry out tasks, as well as attending a medical assessment. Citizens Advice strongly recommends that all claimants get free advice and support to complete the form before they send it off.
Ipswich Citizens Advice also supports claimants through the new Universal Credit application process. This new benefit involves important changes to the way people make the claim, receive the payments and the time scales for payments. We are helping people with each of these stages. We are operating out of the Job Centre on Tuesday mornings as well as from our base in Tower Street.
As new Universal Credit figures are released, Ipswich Citizens Advice is sharing its five key things you need to know about Universal Credit:
- Universal Credit is a new benefit for people in and out of work, which will eventually merge six benefits into one: Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Income Support, Working Tax Credits, Child Tax Credit and Housing Benefit. Currently you can still apply for ESA separately from Universal Credit.
- Universal Credit does not include Council Tax Support – you will still need to apply for this locally.
- You apply for Universal Credit via a single application; you’re usually expected to do this online, but you can apply over the phone or in person if you need to.
- Universal Credit payments are made on a monthly basis, rather than weekly or fortnightly like previous benefit.
- You can ask for an advance payment of Universal Credit to help you get by while you’re waiting for your first payment. This is called a ‘short term advance’.
Helen Bloomfield, Manager of the Money Advice Team in Ipswich Citizens Advice explains, “There is confusion around the changes and we would just like to remind people that we are here to help and support them with benefit claims. Ipswich Citizens Advice has a dedicated Income Maximization Officer whose role it is to support Clients in identifying and claiming all the benefits they are entitled to as well as helping them to complete the forms.”
She adds, “The other important reminder we want to emphasize to people is that we provide this advice and support free of charge. There is no need for people to pay for this information as we can assist them through the claims process as well as providing further advice on other money management issues.”
If you have any concerns about your income or would like to be sure that you are receiving all the benefits that you are entitled to, then do contact us for help. You can also use an online benefits calculator to check. www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits
In the last 12 months local Citizens Advice across England and Wales have helped people with over 150 Universal Credit issues every week.
For more information contact us on 0300 330 1151 or see our website citizensadvice.org.uk