A new benefit system arrives in the area

The council is on hand to offer advice to those waiting for benefit payments.
The council is on hand to offer advice to those waiting for benefit payments.

The Universal Credit system that combines a number of benefits into one is now being rolled out across South Ayrshire.

Anyone currently receiving Child Tax Credits, Housing Benefit, Income Support, Income-based Jobseekers Allowance, Income Related Employment and Support Allowance and Working Tax Credit will generally not be affected by the changes until there is a change in their circumstances or they are contacted by the Department of Work and Pensions.

New Universal Credit claims can only be made online to the DWP, and South Ayrshire Council has been working with partners to provide online access for new claimants who don’t have access to a computer.

There is also help to fill in the online forms by visiting www.south-ayrshire.gov.uk/universal-credit, ‘Digital Access and support directory’ or phoning the council on 0300 123 0900. Frontline staff are also ready to provide support and to signpost claimants in the right direction.

With the DWP estimating it could take five to six weeks for a new Universal Credit claim to be assessed and the first payment made, the council is acutely aware that people may need money advice in the interim.

Councillor Douglas Campbell, leader of South Ayrshire Council said: “The Scottish Government has introduced a bit more flexibility to the Universal Credit system which allows rent to be paid direct to landlords and there is also an option to receive two payments over the course of the month, rather than just one, which could help with budgeting.”

Apply online at www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit or phone 0800 328 9344. More information: www.south-ayrshire.gov.uk/information-and-advice-hub/ or phone the council on 0300 123 0900.