To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent steps she has taken to ensure that universal credit claimants have access to support throughout the application process; and whether she plans to increase the number of universal credit telephone advisers.
24 October 2019
The Department takes seriously the need to support vulnerable claimants, and wants the application process for Universal Credit to be as quick and easy as possible, ensuring that claimants receive money at the earliest opportunity. To support this, we keep staffing levels under constant review and at the required levels, ensuring we have the right number of people available to answer customer calls and to respond to forecasted demand.
All Jobcentres across the country have Wi-Fi and computers available for claimants to access the internet. These devices are being upgraded in a programme due to be completed by the end of October 2019. For those that are still unable to access or use digital services, or are not able to travel, assistance to make and maintain their claim is available via the Freephone Universal Credit helpline. In certain circumstances, a home visit can be arranged to support a claimant in making and maintaining their claim
Additionally, Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice Scotland have been delivering the ‘Help to Claim’ service on a pilot basis since April 2019, supporting claimants with making a new claim to Universal Credit. The Citizens Advice Help to Claim service offers tailored, practical support to help people make a Universal Credit claim up to receiving their first full correct payment on time, and is available online, on the phone and face-to-face through local Citizen’s Advice services.