Getting ready for Universal Credit

'Start getting ready for Universal Credit now' is the message Head of Housing Ryan Barkle is putting out on BBC West Midlands and BBC Points West this week. This new welfare reform - which brings together six payments into a single payment - will be introduced in December in the Tewkesbury Borough area.

The BBC filmed us carrying out a door knocking exercise talking to customers and alerting them to three main things they will need to be able to claim Universal Credit.

Universal Credit, which is a combination of benefits, including  housing benefit, will be paid as a lump sum, in arrears, direct to customers. In some areas people are experiencing a minimum six week delay before they receive any benefits.

Ryan Barkle said: "We're urging customers to make sure they are ready for the introduction of Universal Credit in December. Universal Credit can only be claimed online so customers must have access to the internet, plus a bank account and also ID, such as a passport, utility bill or driving licence.

"Help is on hand for customers through their housing officer, who can provide advice and put people in touch with more specialist support - as always, the important message is to get in touch early if you think you're going to struggle with paying your rent during the rollout of Universal Credit".

The BBC Points West Political Correspondent Paul Barltrop also visited Stroud, where Universal Credit has already been introduced. He visited a Credit Union and heard directly from people who are having to borrow money to tide them over until they receive their benefits.

Universal Credit will be rolled out as follows:-

November 2017 - Forest of Dean and the Cotswolds

December 2017 - Tewkesbury and Cheltenham

February 2018 - Gloucester



BBC interviews Ryan Barkle





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