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The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has confirmed that an extra £22million is being invested to offer “important support” for Universal Credit applicants. This extension of free and impartial support comes amid the continuing rise in the cost of living, which is partially caused by inflation and rising energy costs.
Money is being awarded to the ‘Help to Claim’ support team who gives guidance for applicants via Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice Scotland.
The charities have been providing support through Help to Claim since it was initially created in 2019.
Applicants for Universal Credit use Help to Claim for support and advice either online or by telephone.
When people are not able to gain access to support through these means, applicants can reach out to their local job centre which will point them in the direction of the person to speak to.
Guy Opperman MP, the Government’s Minister for Employment, shared why this money is crucial to delivering a better service for Universal Credit applicants.
He explained: “Help to Claim continues to assist thousands of people every year with over 800,000 people already receiving support since its introduction.
“This additional investment will allow Citizens Advice to continue to provide this vital support following its extension for a further year.
“This high quality and independent support comes in addition to the support already provided through our network of jobcentres, with our staff standing ready to assist those in need of support.”
Dame Clare Moriarty, the chief executive of Citizens Advice, outlined how the cost of living crisis makes this financial aid a necessity for the DWP and other service providers.
She said: “As the cost of living continues to put household finances under pressure, our top priority is supporting the many people coming to us for help.
“We’re glad to continue this important support. We’ve seen first-hand the difference our advisers make in helping people access Universal Credit.
“We’ll continue to use our frontline insights and unique data to suggest enhancements to the benefits system, further helping the people we support.”
What is Universal Credit?
This is a means-tested benefit payment from the DWP which means an applicant’s claim is dependent on their income, savings and capital.
Currently, those who are single and under 25 get £265.31 per month under Universal Credit with people over 25 getting £334.91 over the same period.
Those who apply for Universal Credit as partners will receive £416.45 a month if they are both under 25, or £525.72 if one of them is 25 or over.
There are changes coming to the DWP payment next month which will change how much people are entitled to.
As part of his Autumn Budget 2022, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced a rate hike for Universal Credit and other benefits.
Payments will be raised by 10.1 percent in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rate of inflation for September 2022.
When implemented this benefit payment will be £292.11 and £368.74 a month for those under and over 25, respectively.
Those in a couple who are both under 25 will get £458.51 a month, with a couple over 25 receiving £578.82 for that period of time.
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