By Rachael Robinson, Universal Credit Manager
Riverside has been working with customers to help them move onto Universal Credit for a number of years now.
Over that time we have listened to their concerns and issues and have tailored our support to make their Universal Credit journey as straightforward as we possibly can.
To simplify the process and to eliminate the likelihood of any unnecessary delays, we have introduced a dedicated team to provide the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) with accurate rent and service charge information when requested.
We have trained our staff on how to help customers struggling to cope with Universal Credit. Even understanding the basics like what Universal Credit is, how the online account works and where to signpost customers to for further help and support can make all the difference to someone who doesn’t know where to turn to get the answers they need.
We have also held a series of internal webinars for staff to run through more detail on assessment periods and customers’ payment information so we are better equipped to assist where we can.
This means that we are doing everything we possibly can to ensure our customers receive the housing part of their Universal Credit award as soon as possible.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other roadblocks hindering the process.
We’re supporting the Trussell Trust in their #5WeeksTooLong campaign which aims to reduce the amount of time Universal Credit claimants need to wait to receive their first payment.
We’ve also installed Wi-Fi in almost 100 Care & Support schemes to give our Retirement Living and supported customers the opportunity to easily get online.
I chair our monthly internal Universal Credit working group where we look at the challenges faced by both our customers and the business relating to Universal Credit.
This group has produced some great work so far. One of its most useful outputs has been our staff information sheets containing helpful hints and tips to ensure our customers’ income is maximised where we can.
Riverside’s strong working relationship with the DWP continues to serve us well. It means if one of our customers is having problems with their Universal Credit award or claim, we can support them in getting this resolved as quickly as possible.
We also attend joint meetings with the DWP so we are up to date with changes when they happen and we can raise questions to the DWP on behalf of our customers.
We know that the journey to claiming Universal Credit has not been the most straightforward for many, but we feel that the measures we have put in place mean that our customers can be assured we are doing all we can to support them every step of the way.