Like many throughout the country we welcomed the spirit of Universal Credit, in providing more flexible support for people on variable hours and changeable circumstances, while we were concerned about reports of high debts and rent arrears. We were therefore pleased to join the partnership forum arranged by St Edmundsbury so that we could learn lessons from elsewhere and work together to ensure that UC claimants in this area were given the help they would need from the beginning of the claiming process, and we began work ahead of the advent of Universal Credit full service.
With funding from St Edmundsbury we now have Money Mentors at Bury St Edmunds and Haverhill Jobcentres for 2 mornings a week. Our 2 Money Mentors talk to claimants in general terms about money – the use of an advance payment, how to reduce household costs, checking whether help with debt is needed, or other money-related issues. They can refer people back to our offices in Bury and Haverhill (in fact the Jobcentre in Haverhill is now in the same building!) for help on other matters, and both offices now have public access PCs so that we can support people to make and manage their UC claims