Skills for life

Funding level: £10,001 to £25,000

Description

South Ayrshire Council will become a full roll out area for Universal Credit in Feb 2018, 3 areas will fully roll out in October 2017 to allow us to monitor issues. We have already noticed an increase in service users approaching us for help in making and maintaining online claims. There are limited online access points in South Ayrshire and no actual support to make a claim. A side issue is budgeting assistance and trying to save money online.

This funding will allow our 5 of our existing staff to spend time with service users to help and assist them in claiming Universal Credit and prevent poverty throughout the process by helping to budget better through becoming more comfortable using the internet.

We will increase financial capability and confidence by providing one-to one sessions and helping them navigate the internet to increase skills and confidence to:-
• Financial control (maximise income & reduce outgoings, savvy shopping, budgeting better)
• Encourage IT literacy and competency to encourage Digital Inclusion in particular to online claims and digital by default targets (e.g. Benefit claims)
• Discuss, explain and encourage into volunteering, education, training and/or employment and using the internet to find vacancies

In 2016/17 we surveyed our service users, 33% had no internet access and 26% only had phone data access. From our 1,200 cases we open each year this funding will allow us to provide 25% of them with this additional support. Even those with internet at home advised us they will not only require access to the internet but will also require help in completing online forms and applications to avoid errors. We will monitor demand to seek future funding from 2018 onwards.

National and local evidence gathered suggests that Universal Credit areas have found rent arrears increasing by at least 30% which are linked to structural faults in the Universal Credit systems, we think this is an under estimate.

Other areas have found:-
• Increased referrals and demand for Welfare Rights Services
• Increased demand on foodbanks
• Increased applications to Scottish Welfare Fund
• Increased Social Work intervention
• Increased homelessness
• Increased mental health presentations and calls to support lines regarding mental health and suicidal thoughts
• Increased rent and Council Tax arrears leading to poverty and possible evictions

With your help we hope to mitigate the effects on our service users by helping them ensure claims are made quickly and updated regularly and reduce poverty and possible evictions due to rent arrears from all sectors.

£24,999 would be the full costs of this project for 26 hrs per week of staff time delivering the project to between 200-400 families in the 11 month period, (around £83 per person). This includes providing office and mobile internet access for service users in their home where appropriate and/or reimbursing travel costs where appropriate.

HELP US GET THROUGH THIS TOGETHER.

Ayr Housing Aid Centre

Location: 7 York Street, Ayr KA8 8AN, United Kingdom

Registered charity, established in 1987 helping South Ayrshire residents primarily to prevent homelessness through advice, information, advocacy, representation, sustainment and first home services. A type III National Standards accredited agency and graded 6 (Excellent) by the Care Inspectorate.
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