Call for certainty after fears universal credit claimants could be “abandoned”

Lincoln councillors are concerned people in need will be abandoned after Universal Credit support is handed over to Citizens Advice.

However, the organisation has said it wants to work to deliver the service in a way that “makes sense for people who need support.”

The city council will continue running its internal support service through to September after Citizens advice paid it £8,000 because it hasn’t been ready to take over since April.

The Government announced Citizens Advice would be taking over from local authorities in October last year, which Councillor Rosanne Kirk described as “extremely disappointing” and resulting in the loss of a “highly effective team”.

Councillor Nikki Dillon, wanted to know if council officers “were confident a system would be in place”. “We’re not going to abandon them are we?” she asked.

Council officers previously feared the hand-over could see a reduction in the level of services with residents missing out on support for council tax, rent arrears and discretionary housing payments.

The Universal Credit Team at Lincoln, which is organised as part of the city council and North Kesteven District Councils’ shared services partnership assisted 1,643 people in Lincoln last year.

Helen Oliver, chief officer at Citizens Advice Lincoln and District said the organisation had been offering advice on Universal Credit since it began.

She explained a phased takeover would begin on on July 1, with staff training ongoing currently.

“This funding will allow us to help even more people and offer support through every step of the process.

“We provide a holistic service and can support people with a variety of problems, such as debt, housing and other welfare issues.”

She added: “We recognise the excellent work that has been done in Lincoln on this.

“We intend to continue to work with the local authority to deliver this service in a way that makes sense for people who need support.

“We will also carry on providing strong evidence, locally and nationally, about the help people need.”


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