UNIVERSAL Credit has been rolled out across Bolton today.

This means that everyone in the borough currently receiving any of the six benefits replaced by Universal Credit will be affected.

The single monthly payment, which combines six different working-age benefits into one system, is already being claimed by single jobseekers using the job centres in Blackhorse Street and Great Moor Street.

From today, anyone who would have previously made a claim to Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Income support, Working and Child Tax Credit and Housing Benefit will instead claim Universal Credit.

Penny Applegate, from the local Jobcentre Plus, said: “Universal Credit offers tailored support, which includes more personalised help from a work coach.

"The new system is also more flexible, which means people can take on short-term work to develop their skills and build up their experience.

“Our staff are trained to support people throughout the claim process. We’d encourage anyone who needs extra help or information to come and talk to their work coach.”

All new claimants will need to apply online for Universal Credit and can do this by using the kiosks at the One Stop Shop in the town hall where staff will be walking the floor to help.

Alternatively, claimants can use the computers in any council library to apply where the one-hour cap on using the internet has been lifted and free, wireless internet access is available to those using their own devices.

The council-run Bolton Money Skills Service will also run a personal budget service offering advice on budgeting and financial planning.

On Monday, Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey confirmed that an extra £1 billion will be spent to help support claimants moving to Universal Credit. The Government also announced that waiting times for people claiming universal credit will be cut to three weeks.

It previously took five weeks before new claimants received their first payment on the new scheme which was criticised as a result.

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