Help is at hand for vulnerable council tenants across the Rugby district struggling to come to terms with universal credit (UC).
That was the message from Rugby Borough Council’s community advice and support manager David Worsley when he gave an update to councillors this week.
He explained that there were around 3,500 households in the borough receiving UC payments with just over 700 of those being council tenants.
In the last 12 months a housing officer has started working within the revenues team and this has lead to a reduction in the total rent arrears of those tenants – from £455, 747 last April to £423,328 in May 2019.
But he added: “There have been improvements made over the year but certain issues remain and it’s about identifying those issues with our partner agencies so that we can offer support.
“There are still issues around vulnerable claimants who need help and it is something that needs to be considered. It’s a case of making sure they are aware of the help that Citizens Advice can provide.”
Mr Wortley explained that nationally, Citizens Advice had been running a Help to Claim service for the past three months where the following help was available:
Help with making the initial claim online
Help with creating an email address for those without one
Support with basic computer skills
Advice as to where the internet can be accessed eg on computers in libraries
Explaining how the Universal Credit process works
Help make a first appointment at the Job Centre and explain their importance
Assist in gathering all the evidence needed ahead of that appointment
Advice about requesting an advance payment
Help with the move from weekly to monthly budgeting to coincide with payments
Assistance with their ongoing claims and help with other issues
He added: “Clients are still reporting that they find the process for claiming and maintaining their claim via an online portal confusing.
“The housing service, revenues team and community advice and support team continue to work in partnership with external agencies to resolve issues not only for our own tenants but for all residents of the borough and bring issues to the attention of the Department for Work and Pensions colleagues as necessary.”