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Universal credit will be a ‘huge change’ in Havering

PUBLISHED: 07:28 19 February 2015 | UPDATED: 14:49 19 February 2015

Carol Huggins, financial inclusion and welfare benefit manager at Havering Council spoke to residents yesterday about how universal credit will affect them

Carol Huggins, financial inclusion and welfare benefit manager at Havering Council spoke to residents yesterday about how universal credit will affect them

Archant

A new system changing how people will receive benefits was rolled out across the country this week in what is the biggest reform to welfare in recent years.

Universal credit will be introduced in for working age people in Havering next February and residents went to the Salvation Army in High Street, Romford, yesterday to learn how it will affect them.

Carol Huggins, the financial inclusion and welfare benefits manager at Havering Council, said: “We are trying to offer as much help and support as we can as we recognise this is a huge change.

“Most people who are on benefits live in a cash economy and it works from week to week for them.”

Under the new rules people will receive one monthly payment which encompasses six existing benefits – income support, child tax credits, jobseeker’s allowance, housing benefit, working tax credit and employment and support allowance.

Individuals will have to manage their money from month to month and will be responsible for paying their own rent, rather than it being paid directly to landlords by the housing benefits.

Mrs Huggins said: “The Department for Work and Pensions have said there will be budgeting tools online but then we must think about skills and confidence online.

“The digital inclusion programme at the council teaches people to interact with computers and get them to feel a bit more confident.”

Universal credit will be a much more computerised system with claims being made online.

Those without bank accounts will also be able to access specially created fee free accounts in high street banks following an agreement with the government.

People who are concerned about how the changes will affect them can call the welfare reform team at Havering Council on 01708 432537.


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