Residents across North Ayrshire who need to complete a new claim for benefits are being reminded that they may be affected by major changes being implemented this week.

The next phase of the DWP rollout of Universal Credit begins today (Wednesday) and will see Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Housing Benefit, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit replaced by a new single payment for new claimants who are of working age.

Since 2015, a small number of single working-age people have been claiming Universal Credit in North Ayrshire.

The new phase will now be rolled out to a much wider group of people.

Universal Credit is a new type of welfare benefit administered by the DWP which is paid to those who are out of work and some people who are in work but on a low income.

Laura Friel, Executive Director (Finance and Corporate Support), said: “These changes were announced by the UK Government some time ago.

“However, we are now at the stage where many more people will soon be receiving Universal Credit and it’s important they know how the changes will affect them and what they need to do.

“For example, people will need to claim Universal Credit online and payments can be fortnightly or monthly – this is a big change for those in receipt of benefits and might make managing your money more challenging.

“We don’t want anyone to miss out on what they are entitled to so, if they are affected by the upcoming changes, I would urge them to find out as much as possible about the changes as soon as possible.”

For those out of work, Universal Credit will provide a single payment each month but customers can choose to be paid fortnightly.

In return for that payment, DWP will expect Universal Credit claimants to seek work. Universal Credit will also apply to people in-work but earning below a certain amount.

Where this is the case, it will work like tax credits, in that income will be topped up to a certain level.