- There is no paper claim for UC. The DWP prefer claims to be made online (although a telephone claim service is available to those who would struggle to make the claim on-line).
- For those that would not be able to claim online or on the phone the DWP can arrange a home visit. During the Coronavirus outbreak their Home Visiting service is for all but the most 'vulnerable' claimants and visits that are needed to ensure that benefit payments can be made.
- Usually a claimant would need to attend one (or more) interviews at the Jobcentre ie to agree their claimant commitment and verify their ID (if they failed to do so online or have applied for an Advance Payment). But during the Coronavirus outbreak visits to the Job Centres are being kept to a minimum and as much as possible is being conducted over the phone / online instead - the official advice is:
‘Please note: You should not attend the jobcentre unless directed to do so for an exceptional purpose. However, jobcentre staff will still meet vulnerable customers, including those fleeing domestic abuse.’
- Only the most vulnerable claimants who cannot access DWP services by other channels will be invited to attend, with the public urged to use online services.
Making a claim - current procedures
The DWP has changed procedures due to ‘the unprecedented number of Universal Credit claims’.
After making an online claim for UC there is no need to call the DWP – even if the claimant has not been able to get their ID verified online. Information on gov.uk says,
‘there is no need to call us. If we need to check any information provided as part of your claim with you – we will call you.....
We will know that you have applied and will contact you if we need any more information from you to process any payment you are due. We will put a note into your online account and follow up with a phone call – this may appear as a private number. Please check your online account and look out for calls from us.'
Watch out for scams!
DWP will never text or email asking for personal information or bank details.
Calls from the DWP will no longer show up as ‘Withheld Number’.
Instead, the DWP number 0800 232 635 or an unknown number will be shown.
The gov.uk information advises,
'Please note, there are scams preying on people, so do not share information if you’re not sure the call is from DWP. If you are in any doubt, please ask the caller to post a specific form of words into your journal so you can be sure it’s us.'
What about those who are unable to claim online?
Claims can still be made over the phone.
Universal Credit helpline
Telephone: 0800 328 5644
Welsh language: 0800 328 1744
Relay UK (if you cannot hear or speak on the phone): 18001 then 0800 328 5644
Textphone: 0800 328 1344
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
What about the new claim interview?
Appointments at the JobCentre are limited.
"Depending on your circumstances, you might need to take part in a telephone interview with a work coach. We will contact you if this is the case – you do not need to call us.
If you can’t attend your telephone interview please let us know as soon as possible using your online account so that it can be rearranged. If we ask you to attend a telephone interview, your Universal Credit claim won’t be able to proceed until that interview has taken place."
What about verifying ID?
Claimants may be able to verify their ID online.
If they are not able to do this, they should wait to be contacted by the DWP.
The previous arrangements - whereby claimants were required to ring the UC Helpline or leave a journal message to arrange a telephone ID verification appointment - have now been replaced by the new procedures.
The DWP will ring the claimant if they need to verify their ID over the phone.
The gov.uk information advises,
"If you’re a new customer and are having a problem verifying your identity online do not worry – your claim has been submitted. Your jobcentre will know you have applied online, they will call you if they need to confirm any information with you in order to progress your claim."
More on verifying ID here
What about Advance Payments?
Where a claimant will struggle to manage without any payment for 5 weeks, they can request an Advance Payment. They can apply for this online, on their UC account.
An Advance Payment cannot normally be made until the claimant's (both claimants if a couple) ID has been verified - but a claimant may find that their application has been accepted during the Coronavirus outbreak before verification was complete