As a significant amount of our clients are facing financial distress as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, our welfare benefits adviser, Angela Wright, has put together some tips to help when making a new Universal Credit claim and how to speed up a claim and obtain advance payments if required.
Tip 1 - Seek independent advice: For help making informed decisions, use the 'help to claim' service that exists within the Citizens Advice and in partnership with Jobcentre Plus. Although currently Citizens Advice offices are closed, you can still get help online and by calling their National Adviceline number 0344 4111 444.
Tip 2 - Check you're claiming the correct benefit: If you've paid enough National Insurance Contributions, you may be eligible to claim New Style Jobseekers Allowance or New Style Employment and Support Allowance. You may end up financially better off if you claim these benefits rather than Universal Credit.
Tip 3 - Create a Universal Credit account online: Create your Universal Credit account via the GOV.UK website. Once you've created this, you'll receive an email confirmation from the DWP.
Tip 4 - Be careful using GOV.UK Verify: When creating an account, you'll have to confirm your identity. GOV.UK Verify is the digital ID system. If you already have a Verify account, you can use this to prove who you are. However, Verify is the biggest cause of delays when applying for Universal Credit, so if you don't already have a Verify account, use the option 'I cannot verify'. You'll be asked for details of your ID, such as your passport or drivers licence. The DWP will then arrange ID verification via a Biographical Test/Bio Test, which can be done over the phone and is much quicker.
Tip 5 - Request a telephone call back: Once you receive your email confirmation from the DWP, log into your Universal Credit account and enter your Journal. Ask for a telephone call back under the 'Appointments' option. You'll be notified of your appointment by text or email - whichever option you choose when making the application.
Tip 6 - What to do when waiting for the call back: Whilst waiting for the call back from the DWP, you should continue to call the Universal Credit Claim Line on 0800 328 5644.
Tip 7 - Requesting an advance payment: Please ensure that when you ask for the Bio Test, you also request the advance payment option.
To read our guide on Universal Credit applications, click here.
As soon as we know more, we’ll provide you with an update. For more information, visit our COVID-19 Information Hub.
PLEASE NOTE: this information was correct at the time of publication on 31 March 2020.