A NEW free factsheet explaining the changes to the welfare system with the introduction of universal credit has been published by lone parent charity One Parent Families Scotland (OPFS).
This is the first of seven factsheets to be updated in readiness for the changes to the benefits system which are now being phased in across Scotland.
According to the Government’s timetable, universal credit will be rolled out to single people without children by April 2016. However, if these single claimants subsequently become a single parent, they will remain on universal credit.
The factsheet explains how universal credit is calculated, itemising the different elements of the benefit and how much each is worth; it lists the roll-out dates by local authority across Scotland; it explains the conditions for the receipt of universal credit and outlines the sanctions which will be applied if these are not met; and it includes two case studies of single parents with detailed analysis of what they would be entitled to.
Sue Rew, Information Manager at One Parent Families Scotland, said: “From the calls to our Lone Parent Helpline and queries from those who use our services we know that the introduction of universal credit is causing single parents significant worry.
“OPFS has concerns that claimants are expected to apply online when many do not have access to a PC or the internet, that the money is paid monthly in arrears, and in particular that all the elements, including housing costs, are paid in one lump sum. An error or a delay in payments would have potentially catastrophic consequences.
“We hope that our newly updated range of factsheets will help the one in four families headed by a single parent navigate their way through these radical changes to the welfare system.”
In 2014 OPFS sent out 1,320 publications to single parents and a further 15,615 publications were downloaded from its website. It is expected that the charity’s universal credit factsheet will be one of its most in-demand factsheets ever.
The factsheet can be obtained by calling the Lone Parent Helpline free on 0808 8010323 or is available to download at www.opfs.org.uk.