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Clacton MP questions government over Universal credit

PUBLISHED: 09:33 10 March 2020 | UPDATED: 09:33 10 March 2020

Giles Watling (Conservative MP for Clacton) Picture: House of Commons

Giles Watling (Conservative MP for Clacton) Picture: House of Commons

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Universal Credit was discussed in parliament - with Clacton’s MP asking how the government will help people unable to get to job centres.

Ministers for the Department for Work and Pensions were asked what support was available to people who require additional help transitioning to Universal Credit, especially those using services at a distance or via the internet.

Mr Watling said: 'On a recent visit to my local job centre it was clear that we have excellent staff there and they are in support of Universal Credit, but can the minister outline what plans are in place for outreach services for those who might be intimidated by a visit to the job centre or want to access support online?'

Clacton had Universal Credit introduced in July 2018, with every district transitioning to the new benefit by January 2019.

Citizens Advice have since introduced a Help to Claim service to support those making their first claims.

Replying for the government, Colchester MP and DWP minister Will Quince said: 'I thank my honourable friend for his question and visiting his local job centre.

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'All job centres have wi-fi and computers available for claimants to access the internet.

'For those that are still unable to access or use digital services or are not able to travel, assistance to make or maintain their claim is available via the freephone Universal Credit help line, and Help To Claim offers tailored, practical support to help people to make that Universal Credit claim.'

Cleethorpes MP Martin Vickers added: 'Like my honourable friend from Clacton I recently visited one of the job centres that serves my constituency, in this case in Grimsby, which serves Cleethorpes.

'The staff there do an excellent job and they're very positive about Universal Credit.

'Could the minister congratulate the staff and also do what he can to reassure those who are having problems transitioning that the government will be working to resolve any of the existing problems?

Mr Quince responded: 'That is certainly the same feedback that I and my colleagues on the front bench receive when we visit job centres.

'Universal Credit is a modern, flexible and personalised benefit which reflects the rapidly changing world of work and we believe on this side of the house that work should always pay and we need a welfare system that helps people into work, supports people and is fair for everyone who pays for it.

'I can certainly thank all the staff in his job centre for the work that they do.'

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