The Welfare Rights Service advises Royal Greenwich residents about tax credits and benefits, including Universal Credit. We have expanded capacity in our benefits support services to deal with the increase in applications for Universal Credit and requests for benefits advice.
You can find lots of advice and information on the benefits webpages, including factsheets on common issues and benefits. You can also use our online benefit calculator to check what you are entitled to. You can call us if you have any questions about the calculation.
If you would like to speak to an adviser, you can send us an online query or call us on one of our advice lines to speak to an adviser over the phone.
If you need advice or support about your entitlement, you can call:
- 020 8921 6375 (Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 10am to 1pm)
Or, if your query is specifically to do with managing your Universal Credit claim or you need help to complete an online form for benefits, contact our Universal Support Team on:
- 0208 921 3333 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm)
We are experiencing a really high volume of queries. If we cannot answer the phone, please leave a message and we will get back to you.
Emergency support scheme
We have amended the criteria to qualify for the emergency support scheme to take into account the COVID-19 situation. Changes include:
- suspending the limit of three awards in a year
- relaxing some of the restrictions for students and those with no recourse to public funds
Cash payments via the emergency support scheme are being issued via post offices as normal (where post offices are able to open).
Alternatively, contact our Community Hub who may be able to help with things like delivering food packages, picking up prescriptions and connecting you to local services.
Help with housing costs
Financial help towards housing costs and rent is provided through Universal Credit and Housing Benefit.
Universal Credit has replaced Housing Benefit for most new claimants. However, there are some limited exceptions which may mean some new claimants are eligible for Housing Benefit.
If you need to claim Universal Credit, any existing benefits you claim that have now been replaced by Universal Credit, for example, tax credits, will stop and you will not be able to reclaim them in future.
Some people are not better off claiming Universal Credit. Contact our Welfare Rights and Universal Support Team for advice if you need to check your position on 020 8921 3333 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm).
Help with council tax
Council Tax Support provides financial help for people on a low income. If you cannot get Council Tax Support (LCTS), there are other ways to reduce your council tax bill including a number of discounts and exemptions which you may qualify for depending on your circumstances.
We are also providing additional financial support to working age LCTS claimants where there remains to be a shortfall towards their bill in 2020-21. Payments will be £300 for most eligible people, with this amount increasing to £550 for the most vulnerable households.
Existing Housing Benefit and council tax support claimants
If you currently claim Housing Benefit, council tax support or both and your income has recently reduced, please report your change of circumstances through our change in circumstances online form. If you cannot use our online form, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are receiving a high number of requests at the moment and we will process these as soon as possible. If you have received the acknowledgement for your change of circumstances form being submitted you do not need to chase it up.
Extra help with housing costs
If you are entitled to Housing Benefit, or Universal Credit which includes the housing element, you may be able to apply for a discretionary housing payment.
If you are concerned about someone you have seen sleeping rough, please use Street Link to send details to the local authority. This will help to connect them to local services that can support them.
Integrated Employment and Advice Support Service
We have set up a new integrated service to support residents who have been economically impacted by COVID-19. The service can help you:
• access employment opportunities, apprenticeships, and placements
• gain new skills through training and development options
• to get advice from the Welfare Rights Service on benefits and better calculations based on job options
• with housing related queries
• get support for private sector tenants
• get support for people at risk of becoming homeless.
For further information
We have created several factsheets with information and contact details of services that may be able to help with any financial concerns you might have during the pandemic.