Case Study: ‘Elaine’

Copy written for Citizens Advice — Universal Credit: Help to Claim

“I tried to work it out myself but I it all got too complicated and I needed some advice,” says Elaine.*

Elaine is a single mum, when her hairdressing company failed during the pandemic, she was uncertain how to claim Universal Credit or how a claim might affect her Working Tax Credit.

Our adviser, Sarah, helped Elaine over phone with some benefit calculations. Elaine discovered that her Tax Credits would end under Universal Credit but that she would receive an extra payment for her school-age son and wouldn’t be worse off.

Elaine expected to receive a redundancy payment with her final wage packet, which Sarah realised would complicate and delay her claim. Sarah advised Elaine to speed up her application by waiting until her last wages payment had been received before applying.

Sarah also advised Elaine to take as little as possible as an advance so that future deductions for repayment didn’t have such a significant impact on her monthly household budget.

“Sarah was a great help on the phone, she sent me loads of information and saved me from getting myself into problems.”

*not her real name

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Jules Powis

I’ve written for BBC radio, science podcasts and video journalism plus online content for a wide range of clients in both the commercial and public sector.