Advisers at the long established Derbyshire Unemployed Workers’ Centres (DUWC) claim that thousands are losing out because they are not seeking advice both before and after making their claim for Universal Credit. The DUWC has been advising people in Derbyshire since 1983 and can recognize the pitfalls that face people claiming benefits for the first time.
Those facing redundancy, reduced or low income during the Covid-19 pandemic have heard one clear benefit message from the Government - CLAIM UNIVERSAL CREDIT!
The DUWC advice team believe it is important to seek advice before and after claiming Universal Credit. Failure to do so may lead to a loss of income with the recipient being totally unaware that they are losing out.
Andy Parkes, Senior Welfare Rights Worker at DUWC advised that before anyone considers claiming Universal Credit, they should know that:
- Universal Credit can affect benefits that you may already be receiving –e.g. Tax credits –you could become worse off by claiming Universal Credit
- Universal Credit is a means-tested benefit, if you are not entitled because you have too much income or savings -you may be missing out on other available benefits such as Jobseekers Allowance because you have paid National insurance contributions through work.’
Andy went on to say, "The Centres advisers can discuss your circumstances and undertake benefit calculations, to be able to advise on possible claims. We will see if we can increase your income or make sure you avoid any loss or reduction."
However, after claiming Universal Credit it could also pay to take advice because:
- Online Universal Credit claims can be difficult to complete. You do not have to manage your Universal credit account alone. We are here to help and we can explain how it all works.
- Your payments may not be correct and you could be missing an element of Universal Credit that could mean you will be owed more benefit.
- You may be finding it difficult to meet your claimant commitment. These are the things you need to do to get benefit. We can have a look at you circumstances and see if we can help.’
The DUWC has a helpline 01623 748161 for the Bolsover area operating from 8am and 4pm weekdays and has three Main offices for drop in at Chesterfield, Shirebrook and Alfreton as there is a realisation that not everyone can communicate remotely. The Shirebrook office has a special project to support migrant workers.
Colin Hampton, Co-ordinator of DUWC urged people to get in touch. "Thousands of workers are losing their jobs and may have never come in to contact with the Department for Work and Pensions. It is essential that people are made aware of the help that is out there. DUWC has been here for over 35 years. Unemployment can be an isolating experience so it is important to reach out for assistance from those that have experienced unemployment and redundancy over the decades and can lend a helping hand."