Universal Credit and its impact in York – Call for Evidence

Later this year, a Council report regarding the impact of Universal Credit and it’s rollout in York will be presented to the Executive Member for Adult Social Care.  As part of this, the Liberal Democrats would like to hear from residents about their experiences of accessing Universal Credit.

The report, due to be presented on the 14th June 2018, will be given to Cllr Carol Runciman to consider as part of her responsibilities to review financial inclusion in York.

Given the controversial nature of Universal Credit and the difficulties some residents have had using the service; the Liberal Democrats are keen to ensure residents in York have their experiences included as part of the report, so it is truly reflective of the current situation.

If a resident would like to share their experience of Universal Credit in York, then please do contact Cllr Carol Runciman at cllr.crunciman@york.gov.uk to make sure your observations are included.

Cllr Carol Runciman, Liberal Democrat Executive Member for Adult Social Care, said:

“The rollout of Universal Credit has caused a great deal of stress for many residents across the City.”

“It is absolutely vital that the Council considers the impact of Universal Credit in York and listens to the experiences of residents using the system.”

“I would strongly encourage anyone who accesses Universal Credit to share with their experiences me and ensure that their voices are included as part of this report.”

Free school meals

The Tory government is repealing the free school meal legislation introduced by the last coalition government.

New regulations published this week indicate that a child will only receive a free mid day meal if his or her parents are in receipt of Universal Credit and earn less that £617 a month.

The new rules come into effect on 1st April 2018

Several families in York are expected to be hit hard by the new cut.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2018/148/pdfs/uksi_20180148_en.pdf

 

Citizens Advice to get £12,000 boost for York residents financial advice and support services

 City of York Council is to consider funding an extra £12,000 for Citizens’ Advice York (CAY) so it can run additional drop-in help and advice sessions relating to universal credit.

The offer of the money – which is expected to be ratified at a decision session for the executive member for health and adult social care next week (14 September) – will enable the charity to reinstate two, half-day, advice ‘surgeries’ each week for six months.

The sessions had been threatened because of a shortfall in Citizens’ Advice income.

Demand for help is likely to increase with the further roll-out of universal credit across York.

Universal credit is a monthly payment for people who are on low incomes or out of work and is being introduced in stages nationwide.

An accelerated roll-out started in York in July and will affect most new claimants from this month onwards.

City of York Council has long-supported the work of Citizens’ Advice York and provides an annual grant of £122,500 so it can offer financial advice and support to residents.

The council’s cash contribution has been maintained at the same level for several years, despite budget pressures.

It has also pledged an extra £100,000 over two years from its ‘improving finances, improving lives’ fund to pay for additional services including a Citizens’ Advice debt support worker and GP surgery-based advice sessions.

Councillor Carol Runciman, who has responsibility for financial inclusion, said:

The introduction of universal credit is a significant issue for many people in York.

“I’m very keen to make sure our residents have access to the information and advice they require when major changes are being made to benefits.

“I am delighted we are able to support the charity’s work with a potential funding boost to secure the future of the additional drop-in advice sessions.”

 

Help with Universal Credit for York residents offered by York Council

 

Ahead of Universal Credit rolling out for even more residents in York from 12 July, the council says it will support residents who need digital assistance and budgeting support with Universal Credit.

Universal Credit is a new benefit, handled by the Department for Work and Pensions, which helps people on a low income or not in work, meet their living costs. It combines six benefits, including housing benefit and working tax credit, into a single monthly payment.

Currently Universal Credit is only available to single jobseekers in York but from 12th July parents and couples, including people who can’t work because of their health, living in the city and making a new claim will also receive it.

Universal Credit is one of the biggest ever changes to the benefit system and this may cause people to be worried about what will happen to their benefits. People who need assisted digital support or personal budget support should contact the council’s benefits service on 551556 or to visit www.york.gov.uk.”

There are several changes to previous benefits with Universal Credit, including:

  • ·        payments are made in arrears once at the end of the month, rather than being paid every week.
  • ·        payments will go straight into a claimant’s bank account. This means people may need to set up their own direct debits for expenses like rent if it was paid directly to their landlord under the old Housing Benefit system.

Residents who want to claim Universal Credit who are unable to use the internet or don’t understand how to make the claim can contact the council on 01904 551556 to ask for help through Assisted Digital Support (ADS).

People who would like to claim Universal Credit but are having trouble opening a bank account or managing their money can contact the council on 01904 552044 to ask for help through Personal Budgeting and Support (PBS). PBS can help with budgeting and advice on finding a bank account as Universal Credit cannot be paid into a Post Office card account.

The council has also teamed up with South Yorkshire Credit Union Ltd to give tailored advice which could include consolidating any repayments into a single, more manageable account at a lower, fixed interest rate, rather than resort to unregulated lenders or loan sharks.

Private or council tenants or mortgage holders are welcome to take advantage of the scheme which aims to help people budget and manage any debts.

For more information about the rollout of Universal Credit in York visit www.york.gov.uk

Number of York jobseekers falls by 20 compared to August

Preliminary statistics have shown a decrease in the amount of residents claiming Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) in September compared to the previous month’s figures (550) meaning there are 530 claimants in the city.

DIFF-HAPPY-JOBS-940Figures released by the Office of National Statistics show a 26.4 percent reduction over the past year in the number of people claiming jobseekers allowance in York.

In September 2015 there were 720 claimants.

However, the number of residents claiming Universal Credit rose from 638 in August to 648 in September. This is the second successive month when long term unemployed numbers in the City have increased.

However it comes at a time when some employers are saying that they are having difficulty filling vacancies. First York blamed the lack of drivers on recent service interruptions.

The Jobseekers Allowance claimant count for York represents 0.4 per cent of the working population and contrasts to the regional average which stands at 1.6 per cent. The figures are also much lower than the national average which stands at 1.3 per cent.

York support for new Universal Credit claimants

The Government’s Universal Credit scheme is being introduced in York by the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) from today, 16 February 2015.

The scheme is being introduced incrementally. It will only affect single working-age job seekers making a new claim for benefits at the Job Centre and who will therefore be assessed for Universal Credit.

If they require support with their rent they will no longer claim Housing Benefit from the council, as the DWP will pay their housing costs as part of the single Universal Credit payment. However, it is important that they still make a claim for Council Tax support from the council if they are the Council Tax bill payer.

Universal Credit is a single payment that is made one monthly in arrears direct to the job seeker. In some circumstances payment of rent can be made directly to landlords, but this will be exceptional.

Residents such as those living in a refuge or living in accommodation where they receive care, support or supervision, such as a hostel, will continue to receive Housing Benefit. The scheme does not affect pensioners who are in receipt of Housing Benefit.

The council is working in partnership with organisations including the Citizens Advice Bureau and Explore York Libraries and Archives Mutual Ltd to provide support to local residents claiming Universal Credit, and to those who have problems with their personal budgets or making a claim on-line. The number to call for this help is 01904 551556.

From 16 February, single working age job seekers can claim Universal Credit on-line from the DWP at https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit