The Hyde Group has unveiled its new Universal Credit Helper, which will help those applying for Universal Credit for the first time.
The online tool is being made available for free to organisations wanting to use it as part of their advice offer to their customers and as a guide for frontline staff. It can be customised with an organisation’s logo and colours in just ten minutes.
According to the Department for Work and Pensions, 98% of Universal Credit (UC) applications are made online, but nearly half (46%) of those applying said they needed extra help to complete their application.
Maggie Houghton, Hyde Foundation Programme Manager, said: “With the ongoing economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and managed migration of benefits claimants to UC on the horizon, we’ll need to continue to provide hands-on support to people applying for the first time. However, many customers prefer to ‘self-help’, with the right guidance.”
The UC Helper (www.uc-helper.co.uk) takes people through each step of the UC applications process, from creating an account, to making a claim, verifying their identity (something almost of a third of applicants struggle with) and attending an interview.
“We wanted to produce a ‘friendly companion’, as applying for UC can be complex and overwhelming,” explained Katie Ford, Hyde Senior Successful Tenancies Advisor.
“We also wanted to come up with a solution that could be adopted across the social housing sector, which is why we’ve designed it so that others can rebrand it easily.
“The tool was developed with input from our frontline staff and customers, so it’s very much a result of their input and expertise. It’s an easy-to-use visualisation of the UC journey and includes a checklist for customers so they can track their progress, as well as helpful tips for each stage of the process. Importantly, it’s mobile-friendly, and uses very little data.”
Hyde customer Sandra Tomlinson, who helped develop the UC Helper, said: “The Universal Credit application process can be quite daunting, but this tool really helps; I used to be scared of applying, but this makes it so much easier.”
Hyde worked with digital agency Yalla Cooperative to create the UC Helper. Development was supported by £35,000 of funding from Catalyst and The National Lottery Community Fund COVID-19 Digital Response programme.
Gilly Challinor, CAST/Catalyst Programme Lead said: “Something we’ve really tried to push through our COVID-19 digital support programmes is ensuring that new digital solutions can benefit the whole sector. We know how expensive it is to develop new digital solutions.
“The challenge with Universal Credit isn’t just for the housing sector – it can affect everyone. What’s exciting about this tool is that any organisation can customise it and use it for free.”
Maggie Houghton will be speaking at our Rent Income Excellence Network annual conference on this topic. If you’d like to come along, you can find some more details here.