Citizens Advice has defended its partnership with the DWP to provide support and assistance to Universal Credit claimants, saying it will not stop the organisation from highlighting problems and issues they experience with the new benefits system.

The charity said in a statement on their website, written by head of policy Kayley Hignell: “This funding agreement does not stop us from raising problems with Universal Credit publically and it does not compromise the impartiality or confidentiality of the advice and support we give to people — these are red lines we never cross, including when it comes to funding.”

The DWP will provide Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice Scotland an additional £12m, bringing the total to £39m of funding from Universal Credit’s £200m budget.

Citizens Advice say that they will continue to act as an independent support service, helping and guiding people who have issues or problems in getting benefits.

“Some support exists now — through a scheme known as Universal Support — but this is not consistent across the country and it does not alway provide the help people need to complete their claim,” Hignell wrote. “DWP evidence shows that 43% of people said they needed more support making a claim. It also shows that 44% of people have to make multiple attempts to make their UC claim. We know from our evidence that many of the people we help also aren’t aware of the options available to them, such as more frequent payments (only 14% knew), or for the option to have payments split between household members (only 7% knew).

“Through a new and improved support service, announced on Monday, Citizens Advice will be able to help more people with their initial Universal Credit claim — making sure they get the tailored help they need to fully complete the claim. This independent service will support people through this process, including understanding UC and the options they have to make sure the benefit works for them — ready for their first payment.”

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