Advice NI calls for Universal Credit claimants to have the choice to receive postal decisions


Backing the “Keep Me Posted” campaign, Kevin Higgins, Head of Policy at Advice NI joined Judith Donovan CBE from Keep Me Posted to discuss the crucial need for continued paper-based correspondence for Universal Credit claimants.
Kevin Higgins, Advice NI Head of Policy said:
“Universal Credit is an online system which in itself may be problematic for some people in terms of skills and access issues. However we are concerned that the approach to how decisions are communicated to claimants may exacerbate these issues. We understand that decisions are uploaded to the claimant’s online journal. However we would fear that where a claimant has skills and access issues they may not be able to access the decision in a timely manner, with all the consequences that this could bring including delays in challenging decisions and delays in getting rightful entitlement into payment.”
 
Judith Donovan, Chair of Keep Me Posted said:
“Advice NI is so right to recognise the importance of original paper bills and statements to help Universal Credit claimants. There is no doubt that the digital age has given us many great things and often makes life easier. But when it comes to managing your finances figures show not all of us want to check our bills and statements digitally – not to mention those who cannot go online in the first place.”
 
Advice NI raised this issue with the Department for Communities in NI which administers Universal Credit and received confirmation that decisions are uploaded to the claimants’ online journal. Claimants who do not have access to a printer can attend their local office where staff can print decisions out for claimants. Claimants who are unable to visit their local office can contact the Universal Credit Service Centre to arrange for a copy to be sent them.
 
Responding to this information Mr Higgins said:
“The Keep Me Posted campaign has evidence which suggests that paper helps financial understanding and decision making; something that is particularly important for vulnerable people already struggling with skills and access issues. We believe that it is essential to provide the choice for Universal Credit decisions to be communicated via letter to the claimant. This will aid understanding and provide a safety net for people struggling to engage with the Universal Credit system.”
 
Advice NI offer free, independent advice on a range of issues including Universal Credit. If you would like to talk to an adviser, please call our independent welfare changes Helpline on 0808 802 0020 or email them at welfarechanges@adviceni.net
 
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Contact:  Ciara Boyes 02890 645 919 or Kevin Higgins (07743496957)



Notes:
  1. For further information contact Kevin Higgins (Head of Policy) Advice NI, 1 Rushfield Avenue, Belfast BT7 3FP  Tel: (028) 9064 5919 Mob: 07743496957 
  2. Advice NI is the umbrella body for the independent advice network in Northern Ireland and has approximately 60 Members across NI who provide advice on debt, benefits, housing to name a few. Advice NI members deal with almost 262,854 enquiries per year, with the majority being social security benefits and debt related. 
  3. If you would like to find out more visit our websites www.adviceni.net