In October, the Poole Jobcentre Plus (JCP) area went ‘live’ for Universal Credit, replacing six benefits, including means-tested Employment & Support Allowance (ESA).
Universal Credit is being introduced in different stages across the UK. Those people who become sick or disabled and need to claim a benefit to replace earnings, will no longer be able to claim income-based ESA, and Universal Credit must to be claimed instead.
If you live outside of Poole, some of the Bournemouth and Winton postcodes go live on 22 November and Weymouth and Bridport postcodes on 6 December; the remainder of the Dorset postcode areas go live in 2018.
To make a Universal Credit claim, you must go on online via a PC, tablet or mobile and all communications regarding the claim are undertaken via the Universal Credit system. For those that are unable to use a computer or mobile to access the internet due to their disability, it is possible to ring and make a telephone application on 0345 600 0723. If you do not have enough credit on your phone for a 20-40-minute phone call, you can ask for a call back. If you cannot manage to make a claim either online or by phone without assistance, you can get someone to ring the helpline and request the help of a ‘Visiting Officer’ from the Department of Work and Pensions.
People already on an income-based ESA will not be affected by the changes yet. The changeover of existing claims from ESA to Universal Credit will start in autumn 2018. And, people who have been in work and paying sufficient national insurance contributions in the last two tax years to qualify for contributions-based ESA, who become sick or disabled, can still claim contributions-based ESA even in the live Universal Credit areas.
The Diverse Abilities Advice Team can assist sick and disabled people in the Poole postcodes affected, to make a telephone claim (if it is impossible for them to make a claim online) and assist with the work capability assessment questionnaire. The Advice Team can also assist with applications for Personal Independence Payments, ESA, Carer’s Allowance, disability living allowance for a child, and attendance allowance (for people over pension-age) and requests for reconsiderations and appeals.
To get some help from the local team, call 0300 3305514 weekdays 9am-1.30pm. You can also visit www.diverseabilities.org.uk/advice for more information.
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