Our current research on applying  for Universal Credit

Right now we are researching ‘What it is like to claim Universal Credit’.  Universal Credit (UC) is one of the biggest changes to the welfare system ever made. Bringing together six existing benefits, by the time it has been fully rolled out around 7 million families will be receiving the new benefit – more than half of which are working families. Increasing numbers of our clients are telling us they have had problems with their UC claim, since the full service was rolled out across West Sussex in June and July this year.

You can read more about our campaign actions on Universal Credit below.

We’d like your help!

Right now, we’d like your help to improve our understanding of the problems in claiming Universal Credit (UC).

Please tell us about your experiences by completing this short survey:

What is Citizens Advice is doing about Universal Credit?

Citizens Advice carries out many campaigns to bring about change to laws and policies that we know cause many people problems – such as Universal Credit.

CA supports the Universal Credit’s aims and principles however, while UC is working for the majority, there are a significant minority of people who are having problems – many of whom are in vulnerable situations and most in need of support. Citizens Advice helps many of these people and therefore understands where reforms are needed, such as removing long waits for a first payment.

Real Impact

Our national campaign has been making a real impact. Key changes include:

7 days

Removing the 7 waiting days, making the UC helpline free

100% payment

Changes to Advance Payments so claimants can receive 100% of their payment as an advance, and pay it back over 12 months. Read more here.

Local Findings

Locally, we at CA have been monitoring the level of Universal Support available. We have mapped access to computers and training in use of the internet (e.g at libraries and IT Junctions) and will continue to monitor this to ensure there is adequate provision.

We also surveyed 450 clients in 3 centres to assess potential ability to manage claims online.  Our findings showed:


21% of working-age people rated themselves as having either ‘no knowledge’ or ‘limited knowledge’ of using the internet;


With regard to reported long-term health issues, the disparity in competence levels was marked. 58% of those reporting a health issue rated themselves as having no or limited knowledge of the internet, against 27% of those without health issues.

Next step

We will be gathering our data and client stories to produce a West Sussex wide report  – with our colleagues and partners Arun & Chichester CA – to DWP in December 2018, making recommendations about how the process could be improved.

Click here to read more about how Citizens Advice is influencing changes to Universal Credit.

Find out more about volunteering

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