Advice centres feel the strain

Story by Richard Belbin

The introduction of Universal Credit has, as expected, had a major impact upon advice centres. Since April 2018, 45% of enquiries to Citizens Advice Bureau’s have been related to Universal Credit. Unsurprisingly, Burngreave has the highest number of service users of any ward in Sheffield.

Demand is particularly high for helping set up new claims and checking whether it is even appropriate for claimants to move onto UC, and whether they will be financially better off or not. This is particularly important as the strains on formal advice services such as the CAB mean that people are desperate for any support and advice they can get. There are even reports of people paying for unofficial advice and support – £10 to make a phone call, and £30-50 to complete a form. Such support leaves claimants at risk of giving insufficient or even wrong information which could leave them worse off financially.

If you need help, use the ‘Help to Claim’ service. From 1st April an appointment based service will be provided across the city. Open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm, it can be accessed by calling 0800 144 8444.