Advice Column: Universal Credit Applications

Thursday 13th September

As part of the Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo weekly advice column we focus on common problems with Universal Credit

 I understand that Universal Credit is due to be fully launched in Exeter later this month. What problems have you found with the application process for Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a new benefit which combines six benefits into one, including Jobseeker’s Allowance and Working Tax Credits. It is currently being rolled out across the UK, and the full service will be introduced in Exeter on the 26th September 2018. Once Universal Credit has been fully implemented in Exeter by 2023, 11,500 people are expected to receive it.

 In July, national Citizens Advice launched a new report flagging problems with the application process for Universal Credit, based on findings in areas where the full Universal Credit benefit has already been rolled out.

The report finds that although the benefit is working well for many, a significant number have problems with the application process. A third of people who’ve been helped by the Citizens Advice service say they struggle to provide the evidence needed to finish off their Universal Credit application.

Citizens Advice asked people the service had helped with Universal Credit how hard they found it to provide proof for extra costs, like housing and childcare. Of those who were surveyed:

  • 48% found it difficult to provide evidence for health conditions
  • 40% found it difficult to provide evidence for housing
  • 35% found it difficult to provide evidence for childcare

The survey also found that people receiving their first full payment late stood a higher chance of getting into greater debt, or falling into it. When people didn’t receive their first Universal Credit payment on time, their chances of being in debt increased by a quarter (23%). They were also 60% more likely to borrow money from a lender to help tide them over.

The research shows that providing evidence for extra costs is a common stumbling block when making an application, and can put the brakes on people being paid on time. The report recommends that the government simplifies the claims process, makes it easier to provide evidence for extras costs, and makes sure adequate support is on offer to people making a claim.

For further help or advice about claiming Universal Credit, visit

 Look out for our column next week when we focus on the help available to Universal Credit claimants.

The information contained in these articles does not constitute advice. Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo accept no liability for the information published. Citizens Advice Exeter is unable to respond to individual requests for advice through these columns. Copyright Citizens Advice. For the most up-to-date version, please visit