Local job centres face ‘unprecedented’ claims for Universal Credit

Local DWP manager offers advice for new claimants.

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Jobcentre staff are asking people who have been laid off or have lost their job not to try and sign on for benefits at their local jobcentre as they are closed and services are only accessible by phone or online.

The Department of Work and Pensions has received an ‘unprecedented’ of new claims for Universal Credit since the country went into lockdown a local DWP manager told Eastleigh News:

“Nationally in the last two weeks in March we had just over a Million claims. In other months the figure would be around 50K a week so its approximately 10 times the usual amount and they all came at once.

We don’t expect it will continue at these high levels because most of the people not at work because of the pandemic all stopped work at about the same time.  What makes it all the more uncertain is not knowing how long the self-isolation measures will last or when we will return to normal.”

The manager said that all and that all new claims will be dealt with “quickly and compassionately” with interviews conducted by phone and offered the following advice:

Our phone lines are extremely busy. The quickest way to contact us is through your Universal Credit Journal where your messages will be picked up and responded to.

When making a claim to Universal Credit this is done on line and mostly its fully automated.  Where we need more information one of our agents will call you. This could be to check your identity, discuss evidence needed for your claim and to ensure your claim is progressing smoothly. There will be an opportunity to request an advance of benefit if you need money before the first payment is due.

Your claim will be quicker if you have verified your identity on line and  have input the correct national insurance number.

Please be aware that you may be rung, and please be available to answer the call on whatever number you gave us on your on line claim.

Use your UC account to check and see if you have been given “To Dos”. These are tasks that need doing, usually on line, such as confirming information that you have typed in, or supplying missing information.  Use your journal to ask us for information.

What work is out there that I can do?

Your health is obviously your first priority and you should follow Gov.Uk advice as to whether you can go out to work or not.

There are lots of jobs available at the moment in sectors that provide essential services such as food production and distribution, the care sector and the supply chain to the NHS.

Supermarkets are recruiting delivery drivers, checkout operators and in store staff. Farmers are recruiting workers and home delivery drivers are much in demand. These vacancies can be found on the companies’ website.

Follow us on Twitter for quick messages showing which companies are recruiting in Hampshire @jcpinhants_iow