Universal Credit: Help for Single Parents to Navigate Claiming the new Benefit
With four more local authority areas in Scotland about to experience the roll-out of Universal Credit, One Parent Families Scotland have issued an advice guide for single parents who may be about to claim universal credit, are already getting it or who want to know more.
Universal Credit is scheduled to be introduced to Aberdeenshire, Perth and Kinross, Moray and Scottish Borders in June. For some, claiming universal credit is far from easy, with one fifth of applications rejected due to an overly complicated application process.
The initial five-week wait for the first payment can result in financial difficulties with up to 5% of people subject to sanctions and more than half of these lasting five weeks or more. These sanctions can leave parents reliant on foodbanks and pushing them into rent arrears, and for some into homelessness.
Julie Mitchell, Manager of OPFS Advice & Information Service said:
“We know twice as many single parents lose out as gain on Universal Credit. Our free Telephone Helpline is seeing a surge in inquiries about universal credit from Single parents telling us they want our help to understand how the new benefit rules affects them, a calculation of what they are entitled to and an expert to help them explore their options including the “Scottish Choices” on how they are paid. Single parents can call our free Helpline on 0808 801 0323 to explore these issues and more.”
Marion Davis, OPFS Head of Policy, said:
“Universal Credit must be reformed to ensure financial security for families. Unfair benefit sanctions can result in children going without proper meals and take a severe financial and emotional toll on single parents and their children, with the situation set to worsen. We urge the government to recognise that sanctions don’t work for single parents, and to focus on providing support to better enable single parents to enter work.”
Single parents can call the OPFS Telephone Helpline to navigate through the benefit application process. This is achieved via an initial assessment of the families’ circumstances to ascertain what benefit to apply for and completing a benefits calculation for them.