Community support for Universal Credit

Universal Credit use

Story by Richard Belbin

New services and support are coming online to help those facing hardship due to the implementation of Universal Credit (UC).

As reported in Improving digital access, ‘mapping’ exercises are being carried out to see what group and community spaces could be used to allow local people access to the online services that they are required to use (see box for the currently listed locations).

A new partnership project, Age Better Sheffield, delivered by SOAR with CAB support, is operating out of Burngreave Library (Thursdays 10am – 12pm) and is aimed at people aged 50+ looking for support with finances benefits and money management tips. People can just turn up and get help with a range of financial issues including Universal Credit.

Rules for the system are changing almost constantly, under yet another new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. Unfortunately this means that even job centre and advice workers are struggling to keep up with the changes. Whilst the national migration of people on to UC has been postponed; people who have a change of circumstances will (if deemed not eligible to stay on legacy benefits) still be advised that they will need to make a claim for UC.

These changes mean that it is especially important that community volunteers and workers do not give legal advice as the system is very complicated and it is easy to give the wrong advice. Instead they should focus on assisted support and signposting where necessary.

Church volunteers in the food bank at the Rock Christian Centre will also be offering assisted support to people struggling with the system.

Universal Credit use

Universal Credit use

Figures from the Trussell Trust

  • 56% had experienced issues with housing
  • 8% of respondents said their full Universal Credit payment covered their cost of living
  • 70% had experienced debt during the wait

Online access is provided at the following locations at the listed times:

Burngreave Food Bank

Rock Christian Centre, 177-195 Spital Hill, Sheffield S4 7LF.

  • Food Bank referrals made by preapproved agencies. Trussell Trust Voucher System
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 14.00-16.00

Burngreave Library

Sorby House, 42 Spital Hill, Sheffield S4 7LG

  • Free Wi-Fi PCs available
  • Free Digital Inclusion Classes
  • Tuesday 1pm-3pm (need to book direct with Heeley Development Trust 0114 399 1070)
  • Monday 10-12.30pm and 1.30-5pm
  • Wednesday 10-12.30pm and 1.30-5pm
  • Friday 10-12.30pm and 1.30-5pm Saturday 10-1pm

First Point Burngreave

Sorby House, 42 Spital Hill, Sheffield S4 7LG

  • You will also find a range of useful information leaflets and other facilities such as free internet access and Freephone for accessing council services.
  • Offices which are First Points also offer a range of council services.
  • Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 9am to 5pm Wednesday, 9am-1pm

If your group can provide any further online access, please let Pam Grant know,
and at what times services may be available, by emailing

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