As a major part of government changes to the welfare system comes into effect in West Oxfordshire at the end of November, residents making a new claim can be assured of support from the District Council.
Universal Credit merges several benefits and credits into a single payment replacing a number of existing benefits and tax credits.
Through Universal Credit, all new applications will need to be made online to the Department of Work and Pensions, with the applicant responsible for managing their own changes and making their own payments, such as rent and housing costs.
Although Universal Credit will be handled by the Department for Work and Pensions, council officers will be on hand to offer general advice and assist people with setting up their own accounts and with online form filling. Benefit applicants will be able to use computer terminals in council reception areas.
In addition an appointment can be made with a Client Support Officer who can advise on personal budgeting and help with online job searches and applications.
Cllr Toby Morris, Cabinet Member responsible for Finance said: “I urge anyone worried about making a Universal Credit application online for the first time, to take advantage of the additional support we are offering. Once up and running, I am sure people will find that receiving a single monthly payment through Universal Credit is simpler. It is important that we offer a helping hand as Universal Credit is a major overhaul of the UK’s welfare system and the biggest change since the 1940s.”
The aim of Universal Credit is to help people to become more independent by finding employment and managing their personal finances. It is for working age people who are unemployed or on a low income and it will ensure that people are financially better off in work.
See www.westoxon.gov.uk/universalcredit for further information, including how an appointment can be made with a Client Support Officer.