Ahead of big changes to benefits and tax credits this autumn, Oxford City Council and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) are holding a conference tomorrow for housing, advice and support providers to get ready for Universal Credit in Oxfordshire.
From October, Universal Credit will replace a number of existing benefits and tax credits for Oxfordshire households making new claims. Claims for Universal Credit will have to be made online, and most existing benefit payments will be replaced by a single monthly payment paid directly into a claimant’s bank account.
The council, DWP and support organisations will meet on Wednesday 12 July to discuss the impact of Universal Credit changes in Oxfordshire and the services needed to support claimants. The conference aims to identify any gaps in services and to develop an action plan to bridge these.
Universal Credit claims are managed by the DWP. The council has agreed to provide support for claimants referred by DWP work coaches who struggle to either manage a monthly budget, or to make and manage an online claim.
Councillor Susan Brown, Board Member for Customer and Corporate Services, said:
“If you claim Universal Credit, you need to have a bank account, you need to be able to pay your rent and bills and manage your other costs on a monthly basis, and you need to be able to make and manage your claim online. It’s very different to any benefits or tax credits people get now, and we will help anyone in Oxford who has difficulty managing their monthly payment or who cannot claim online. It is vital that the council, DWP, housing associations and support providers work closely together to make sure vulnerable residents can cope with Universal Credit.”