Here are a few ideas to help get your clients ready for Universal Credit.
1 Make sure wherever possible they have claimed all of their relevant means tested benefits ahead of full roll out (ie Income Based Job Seeker’s Allowance, Income Related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Tax Credits and Housing Benefit.)
2 Try to encourage your clients to improve their computer skills as they will need to interact with DWP digitally. Maybe they can designate a family member to do this. There may be computer skill courses available. If they do not have access to a computer they can use their smartphone or perhaps they could use their local library or the computer at DWP or at their local jobclub. They should be encouraged to find out about this.
3 If they have limited English they could try to improve their English by enrolling on courses
4 If after full roll out they are turned down for an ESA work capability medical then they may be better to do a prompt Mandatory reconsideration and then an appeal if needed and get ESA reinstated after lodging the appeal using regulation 30 (if it is their first refusal since March 2015) rather than claiming UC which will anyway not be paid for 6 weeks.
5 If they have debts now encourage them to start taking action to reduce these and get them under control.
6 Make sure they all have a benefits check and are claiming all benefits they are entitled to focusing in particular on DLA for children and PIP for adults. These benefits are massively under claimed.
7 Look out for mixed age couples where one person is over Pension Credit age (pension age for a woman) and encourage these couples to transfer on to Pension Credit ahead of full roll out so they are not caught up in UC. They will get more money this way anyway.
8 On the rare occasion where claimants are getting large amounts of backpay eg from arrears of benefit they are owed if they can we should be encouraging them to put some of this to one side to help them through the transfer on to UC. Obviously this would be only after they have cleared their debts.
9 Make sure you feel equipped to talk to them about Universal Credit problems they are having.