Renfrewshire residents are being urged to learn basic digital skills ahead of Universal Credit coming into effect on Wednesday 19 September.
Universal Credit will replace six benefits and tax credits with a single monthly payment, but claims can only be made online using a smartphone, tablet, laptop or computer.
The benefits and tax credits moving onto Universal Credit are: Housing Benefit, Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit.
Residents who claim Universal Credit will also need to go online regularly to see tasks set by their work coach and update their journal to ensure their claim continues to be paid.
People who claim any of the six benefits or tax credits won’t need to apply for Universal Credit until the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) ask them to unless they have a change in circumstances.
New claims made after Wednesday 19 September will have to be made for Universal Credit and should be made as soon as possible as the benefit is calculated from the date the claim was submitted and cannot be backdated to an earlier date.
Darran Gillan, Youth and Programme Development Manager at Paisley YMCA, says more people need to learn basic digital skills to help them access online only platforms such as Universal Credit.
He said: “Never before has it been more important to have basic digital skills. As Universal Credit is only accessible online on the UK Government’s website, many people who don’t yet have the right digital skills will find it difficult to make their claim and keep up with their claim commitments.
“Many local community groups and organisations offer digital support and learning opportunities, so people should check out what is in their area ahead of needing to make a claim for Universal Credit.”
Residents can make an appointment with a volunteer digital teacher – known as a Digiteer – at one of Renfrewshire’s libraries, run by Renfrewshire Leisure Limited on behalf of Renfrewshire Council, by calling 0300 300 1188 or visiting www.renfrewshireleisure.com/
Many local community groups hold their own digital training sessions that can help residents to get more confidence with going online and residents are encouraged to check out what it in their area.
People who have their own smartphone, tablet or laptop can make use of free public wifi in Johnstone, Renfrew and Paisley town centres.
Those who don’t have a computer can use a public computer at their local library or Jobcentre Plus office. Computers are also available at Renfrewshire House and 5 High Street in Paisley as well as Johnstone Town Hall.
Tenants of social or private-rented housing should check with their landlord to see what support is available to them.
Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “It’s important that everyone takes advantage of digital training in their local area as those skills will be useful should they need to claim Universal Credit.
“People needing a little bit of help getting online can book an appointment with a Digiteer in a library and we have made sure that public computers are available that can be used to learn digital skills, make a claim for Universal Credit or keep up with their claim commitments.
“Free public wifi in Johnstone, Renfrew and Paisley town centres will also help many people who already have a smartphone, tablet or laptop and just need access to the internet.”
People applying for Universal Credit will need to have the following information to hand:
-Personal details, including National Insurance Number, proof of address and identity and email address
-Home details, including postcode, proof of address, housing costs including rent or mortgage, property type, and who owns the property and any ‘rent-free’ weeks you are allowed by a landlord
-Financial details, including bank, building society or credit union account and earnings, pension or child maintenance payments and savings
For more information on Universal Credit and support in Renfrewshire, visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/