Universal Credit support pledge

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RESIDENTS affected by the introduction of Universal Credit have been promised support from East Renfrewshire council, Barrhead Housing Association and East Renfrewshire Credit Union.

The three local organisations have joined forces and pledged support for anyone affected by changes to the benefits system.

The first step is encouraging those without bank accounts to sign up to a credit union account, to ensure they receive their benefit entitlement.

The government’s universal credit scheme — first launched in April 2013 — sets out to replace six existing benefits with a single monthly payment.

So far, it has only affected new claimants of income-based jobseekers allowance, income-related employment and support allowance, income support, working tax credit, child tax credit and housing benefit.

However, all residents in receipt of these benefits will be on the universal credit scheme by 2016/17, according to Westminster.

Universal credit will also change the way the rent is paid for some claimants, as they will receive the money and pay the bill themselves, rather than a payment being made direct to landlords.

East Renfrewshire Credit Union manager Stephen Walsh warns that the introduction of universal credit will mean “big changes” for many East Ren residents.

He added: “We are all here to help.

“The credit union can support residents through the simple process of opening up their credit union account.”

Barrhead Housing Association representative Rena McGuire (also the recipient of this year’s inaugural provost award) commented: “I would urge everyone who is in receipt of benefits to consider a bank account with the credit union.

“Not only will it help tenants manage household budgets once universal credit is introduced, but the scheme has many other benefits too.”

Councillor Iain McAlpine, East Ren’s convener for corporate services, pledged the council’s support, stating that it would work with the credit union “to ensure that those in our community who are affected are supported through all of these changes”.

For information on opening an account, visit East Renfrewshire Credit Union at 114-116 Main Street, Barrhead, call 881 1353 or visit www.ercu.coop.

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