Glasgow’s Universal Credit support hubs bring in £15m in financial gains
Glasgow City Council’s Universal Credit support hubs have brought in more than £15.2 million in financial gains for people living in the city.
Located in 19 libraries and community centres across the city, the hubs, staffed by UC advisors, have assisted 4,966 people since September 2018 and the service currently sees an average of 320 appointments every month.
With claims having to be made and maintained mostly online, many claimants also used the services on more than one occasion to assist further with their claims enquiries.
So far approximately 12,000 appointments have been made by people looking for help and advice.
The figures were revealed as Councillor Allan Gow, city treasurer, visited one of the UC hubs in Elderpark Library, in Govan, to hear first-hand from staff about the range of help and support they are providing to people on the receiving end of the UC migration and what sort of issues they are being presented with on a daily basis.
During his visit, he met Jen Calley, Universal Credit advisor from Glasgow Life, who has been working in the hubs for more than a year.
Councillor Gow also met Robbie Bryan, Citizens Advice Bureau advisor and Sharon Cardno, client support assistant from Jobs & Business Glasgow, just a couple of the other partners co-located in the libraries, who receive onward referrals from the UC advisors.
He also met a couple who had come in to seek help with their UC claim and needed further assistance with housing as they were likely to be made homeless in a month if they couldn’t find an alternative.
Mr Gow, said: “This visit was really informative for me. This model was innovative and a bit of a gamble for us, but it is working. Without the hubs, I’ve no doubt, and this has been backed up with what I’ve heard today, that many, many, of our citizens, would be lost and would be struggling, without this help.
“The figures speak for themselves. People are using the services and are receiving the support they need, from a range of different partners. However, this is not simply about UC but about holistic support; referring and signposting people to other sources of help as living on a low income is often caused by and causes a myriad of interlinked problems.
“From speaking to frontline staff I’ve come away with some thoughts on how we might add value to what we currently offer and how we could improve things, especially around language barriers, and the need for translation service and interpreters. Also what other services might we want to partner up with or see co-locate within the hubs.
The council’s Universal Credit Support project was put in place to help some of Glasgow’s most vulnerable citizen’s cope with the change from legacy benefits to the new Universal Credit system.
Through carrying out individual needs assessments UC advisors have referred many clients on to basic digital skills classes, to ensure that they can maintain their claim online as well other co-located partner support including Citizens Advice, Jobs & Business Glasgow and Housing Benefits and wider support from GHeat, One Parent Families Scotland, local foodbanks, Glasgow Disability Alliance and Money Matters.
Anyone that needs to claim Housing Benefit, Employment Support Allowance, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Job Seeker’s Allowance or Income Support needs to make an online claim for Universal Credit.
It is likely to take until 2023 to migrate all existing claimants to the new benefit.
Last February the council agreed a £2million budget to support a range of agencies in the city to deliver expanded financial and digital inclusion services focusing on implications that might emerge from Universal Credit full service roll-out in Glasgow.
The Universal Credit Hubs are in Anniesland, Bridgeton, Castlemilk, Cranhill Community Centre, Drumchapel, Darnley Community Centre, Easterhouse, Elderpark, Gorbals, Govanhill, Ibrox, Knightswood, Maryhill, Partick, Pollok, Pollokshaws, Royston, Shettleston and Springburn Libraries.