People will now be able to get support from the charity as they submit their Universal Credit application to get their first full payment.
Help will be tailored to the individual and available, face-to-face, over the phone by calling 0800 144 8 444 and online through a specialist web chat service at citizensadvice.org.uk. This may include assistance with the online application form or help with providing evidence like childcare costs.
A recent survey by the charity found more than a third of people Citizens Advice has helped struggled to provide the evidence needed to complete their Universal Credit claim.
The charity has already helped 644 people locally with 1,278 problems relating to Universal Credit in the last year with 334 of them from Harrogate. Nationally, Citizens Advice has helped over 230,000 people with Universal Credit.
Universal Credit is a new benefit that combines 6 benefits into 1, including Jobseekers Allowance and Working Tax Credits. It is now fully rolled out across the UK. When fully implemented, around 7 million people in England and Wales will be receiving Universal Credit.
Edward Pickering, CEO for Citizens Advice Craven & Harrogate Districts , said:
Today we’re launching a new service specifically for those who need help applying for Universal Credit.
We offer free, independent, impartial and confidential advice to people in the community every day and have developed an expertise in dealing with Universal Credit. We have seen first-hand what can happen when people struggle to make a claim and their payments are delayed.
We encourage anyone who needs help with their application to get in touch with us either in-person, at your local office, over the phone on 0800 144 8 444 or over our webchat at citizensadvice.org.uk