A NEW service has launched to help those who could face the threat of delayed benefit payments.

Citizens Advice Basingstoke and Tadley has launched the Help to Claim service which aims to support people who are filling out a Universal Credit application for the first time.

Universal Credit is a monthly payment to help people on a low income with their living costs.

In 2017/18, more than a quarter of all visits to Citizens Advice Basingstoke and Tadley was in relation to benefits issues – the most common reason for people seeking advice from the charity.

Nationally, Citizens Advice has helped more than 230,000 people with Universal Credit.

As part of the Help to Claim service, volunteers at the charity will be on hand to provide assistance to residents, which includes help with the online application form or help with providing evidence like childcare costs.

Chief officer of Citizens Advice Basingstoke, Graham Hatcher, said: “This new service is available to everyone applying for Universal Credit.

“Our free, independent, impartial and confidential advice to people across Basingstoke and Deane means we have developed an expertise in dealing with Universal Credit.

“We’ve seen first-hand what can happen when people struggle to make a claim and their payments are delayed.

“We encourage anyone who needs help with their application to get in touch with us either in-person, over the phone or online.”

Universal Credit is a new system that combines six benefits into one, including Jobseekers’ Allowance and working tax credits.

It is now fully rolled out across the UK, coming into effect in Basingstoke and Deane in May last year, after a controversial introduction elsewhere in the country with reports people were not receiving payments for weeks on end.

Around seven million people in England and Wales are to receive Universal Credit.

The new service can be tailored to the needs of each individual person who need advice on how to claim Universal Credit.

For more information on the new Help to Claim service available, go to citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/universal-credit.