Council reaffirms commitment to support residents on Universal Credit

Stirling CouncilA new group is to be established by Stirling Council to ensure residents on Universal Credit continue to be supported.

Universal Credit was piloted in Stirling in May 2015 for a small percentage of residents, and fully implemented in June this year for anyone of working age on a low income in or out of work.

At a full council meeting last week, councillors unanimously agreed to establish a Universal Credit Short Life Working Group to continue to monitor the impact on residents.

The group will focus on how people who apply and receive Universal Credit interact with the council, and how they are supported by council services.

The group will comprise of elected members including those from the council’s community planning and regeneration; finance and economy; and education committees, as well as from the council’s housing portfolio.

The establishment of the group was recommended to Full Council via a motion by community planning and regeneration convenor Chris Kane.

Councillor Kane said: “Universal Credit was rolled out in Stirling on 28th June and what became apparent very quickly was that it was having a big impact across multiple council services. This Short Life Working Group has cross party support and will look at how we resource our services and our staff, who are doing an excellent job under challenging circumstances. We need to ensure council policies and procedures are robust, flexible and able to provide support and mitigation to those who need our help the most.”

The group will report back to council within six months with recommendations for any changes or enhancements required to Council policies, procedures or resources to continue to assist those in receipt of Universal Credit.

The measures which have been taken so far to support residents on Universal Credit were also outlined at the meeting.

Councillors heard how in preparation of the full Universal Credit roll out, staff from housing, revenues and benefits, advice services, employability, social work and libraries were fully trained to provide support to those applying for Universal Credit.

In addition, the council is providing assistance through Advice Stirling which is delivering money, debt and benefit advice as well as personal budgeting support. As Universal Credit can only be claimed online, Stirling Council Libraries are providing access to IT and digital support and offering free training in digital skills.

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