27 May 2020
A crucial Glasgow Life service to help people fill in Universal Credit applications has been moved to an emergency helpline service while the lockdown continues.
Since it began in 2018, the Universal Credit assisted digital support project has helped more than 5,500 people access a range of support estimated to be worth more than £12 million.
Universal Credit is claimed for online, and support in making applications has been made available at Glasgow Libraries for the last 18 months.
When the lockdown was announced, the Universal Credit support team continued to work directly with those making applications (following social distancing guidelines) while a phone service was quickly set up.
In 2018 the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) found 45% of people needed help completing applications. Since lockdown began 230 people received help either in person or on the phone within a day of requesting assistance.
Almost 90% who apply with help from Glasgow Libraries are successful compared to the national average of 70%. As well as helping people apply for Universal Credit, the support team also provides advice for keeping claims up to date.
Councillor David McDonald, Chair of Glasgow Life and Depute Leader of Glasgow City Council said: “From before the days of the coronavirus lockdown, the Universal Credit support team has been helping those who need the most support. Once lockdown happened, their dedication to initially carry on with face-to-face consultations while the phone network was set up, saw this crucial support continue. It’s vital everyone knows there is support available right now if it’s required.”
48 year old Owen from Knightswood has used the service. Owen said: “Nobody ever explained what I was entitled to before. I was just passed from pillar to post because nobody wants to help you. This is much more personal and much more approachable. I can’t speak any more highly about the service, and I wish more people knew that this help was available.”
Steven McTaggart, Financial Capability Project Manager said: “Over the last few weeks we have noticed some changes in the people seeking our help. Before coronavirus, they were mainly people out of work but more and more we have been receiving requests from people who have either been recently made unemployed or people who are still working. We have been working very hard to deliver the support we can to those who need it, when they need it.”
Callers also get help with translations services and a general needs assessment helping them identify and access other sources of assistance like Citizens Advice, Jobs & Business Glasgow, Housing Benefits, One Parent Families Scotland, local food banks, Glasgow Disability Alliance and Money Matters.
The helpline number is 0808 169 9901. Each call takes between 60 and 90 minutes to complete an application.