Islington Law Centre gets nearly £200,000 to help with Universal Credit

IZ Letters 31 Islington Law Centre

IZ Letters 31 Islington Law Centre - Credit: Archant

Islington Law Centre has been awarded nearly £200,000 to fund its increasingly growing workload helping Universal Credit claimants.

The City Bridge Trust has given the Devonia Road centre £185,800 to fund a specialist Welfare Benefits Advisor, who will work with claimants of the new benefit.

Universal Credit is an online-only system combining six working age benefits, including Housing Benefit and Job Seeker’s Allowance, into one monthly payment – it can take up to five weeks for a new claimant to get their first instalment.

Ruth Hayes, director of Islington Law Centre, said: “Islington is now seeing the impact of the roll out of Universal Credit, and it’s clear that it is leading to an increase in the need for specialist advice.

“Islington Law Centre is delighted to have been awarded a grant from City Bridge Trust to help us respond effectively to this need and to extend the services available to local residents.

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“The increased capacity will have a major impact for our clients and will enable us to build on the links that we have with other community groups so that we can ensure that we help those most in need.”

Since the benefit was rolled-out in Islington on June 20, 4,000 households have switched over to it – and 75 per cent of council tenants who get the benefit are now in rental arrears. Food bank dependency has quadrupled.

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But a DWP spokesperson said: “Rent arrears are complicated and they cannot be attributed to a single cause.

“Our research shows that many people join Universal Credit with pre-existing arrears, but the proportion of people with arrears falls by a third after four months on UC.”

The City Bridge Trust, the charitable arm of The City of London Corporation, distributes surplus money from bridge building projects to charities in the capital.

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