Help with digital skills for job seekers in South Hams

In a new initiative, Citizens Advice South Hams, Jobcentre Plus and South Hams District Council have teamed up to provide immediate help for South Hams residents applying for and claiming Universal Credit.

Universal Credit – the new benefit for people who are working but on a low income, or people who are out of work – has already been introduced to some parts of South Hams and will go live in the Totnes area from September 5th.  In a big departure from current welfare benefits, payments are made monthly and applications are usually made online

Personal Budgeting Skills (PBS) is being offered by Citizens Advice to all claimants who feel they may need help with the new monthly payments and budgeting.  The local advice charity will provide one to one, personalised support to help people understand their award and monthly outgoings.  Where appropriate the advice charity will also help people convert a post office card account into a bank account.

Janie Moor, CEO, Citizens Advice South Hams, said: “Many people who are huge change in the way they manage their day to day finances.  We are offering one to one support to help people save money, identify priority debts, set up direct debits and start budgeting on a monthly basis.”

Assisted Digital Support (ADS) will be provided by South Hams District Council and is available to claimants with low confidence or IT skills or no access to a computer.

Cllr Hilary Bastone, Executive Portfolio Holder for Customer First at South Hams District Council, said: “We’re delighted to be joining with Citizen’s Advice and the DWP to be able to offer this service. Making a claim for any benefit can feel overwhelming at times, and it’s important we support those in our communities who might need assistance at a difficult time in their lives.”

Other ways people can access support is through the Jobcentres which have dedicated computers that claimants can use to make a claim and staff available to provide support when required.

Jacki Williams, Local Partnership Manager for DWP said: “Jobcentre Plus are really pleased to be working with SHDC and Citizens Advice to ensure everyone has the help and support they need to make their claim and manage their monthly payments”.

In the first instance new claimants who require help should contact their local Jobcentre Plus as quickly as possible, a local appointment will be made for them with a member of staff to complete the online form.  If they don’t already have one, claimants can also be helped to set up an email address.

Existing claimants already on Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Employment Support Allowance (ESA), Income Support(IS) Housing Benefit, Working Tax or Child Tax Credits will remain on the benefit until they have a change of circumstance that requires them to claim Universal Credit or are contacted by the Department of Work and Pensions.  Families with three or more children will continue to claim JSA, ESA or IS until later this year.

To contact your nearest Jobcentre Plus call Freephone 0800 055 6688, to contact Citizens Advice call 03 444 111 444 or to find out more about Universal Credit go to southhamscab.org.uk and type UC into the search button.

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I always find the people at the Citizens Advice more than helpful. They go out of their way to deal with distressed and confused people in a compassionate and sensitive way. Citizens Advice is a wonderful service – long may it last.

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