Citizens Advice Sheffield urge people to get advice before claiming during Covid-19 crisis
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It comes after the advice bureau reports that people are facing problems when they’ve moved over to Universal Credit, even if they were better off before they are not able to move back to ‘legacy’ benefits.
Citizens Advice Sheffield (CAS) also claims that non-British people who have been in the UK for many years are now finding that their benefit claims are wrongly adjudicated or refused.
Luana who has lived in Sheffield since she was 11 said: “[I applied for Universal Credit] not knowing that you couldn’t go back on to working tax credits or housing benefits afterwards – no matter what the result was.”
“They turned me down over a ‘habitual residency’ basis.
"I felt very frustrated at the time.
"Citizens Advice was able to understand my situation quickly: the fact that I’ve been living here, I’ve registered as a self-employed person, I send tax returns every year.”
While Luana’s situation was resolved, she is now encouraging other people to call the charity’s Help To Claim helpline before making a claim for Universal Credit.
The advice bureau supported almost 7,000 people with more than 18,000 issues from April 1 to 30 June, a year-on-year increase, with many looking for help with welfare benefits, alongside debt and employment, in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Chief Executive at Citizens Advice Sheffield, Clare Lodder said: “The numbers of people coming to Citizens Advice for help tells a story about the devastating and unequal impact the pandemic has had on the lives of local people, many of whom were already struggling.
“With more and more people worrying about losing their jobs or managing to pay for essentials like food and rent, improvements to the benefits and debt recovery systems are urgently needed.
"Economic recovery will be worth very little if millions of people are left behind.”
You can call the Universal Credit - Help To Claim Helpline on 0800 144 8 444 for help and support with claims.