Up to 500 families facing a hard-up Christmas due to the roll-out of Universal Credit will be able to apply for an advance payment.

Universal Credit was introduced by the government to bring six benefits – income related Jobseekers Allowance, Child Tax Credit, Income Support, Working Tax Credits and Income related employment and support allowance – under one monthly payment.

The new system will be rolled out in Redcar and Cleveland from the end of November with an earlier council meeting told the DWP estimated that it would be dealing with claims from between 350-500 residents a month.

But because it takes five weeks to receive a payment after making a claim, hundreds of families in Redcar and Cleveland were left facing a Christmas with no money.

Now the council has outlined exactly what help is available to those applying for the benefit.

At a meeting of Redcar and Cleveland Council on Thursday, Cllr Jeffrey announced how the local authority would support affected families.

Redcar Council leader Cllr Sue Jeffrey (Image: Copyright Unknown)

She said: “The council recognises this serious risk and we are working with the Department for Work and Pensions to help provide claimants in the borough with all the information they need to avoid being short over the festive period.

“This will include applying for an advance payment.

“For those who do fall into difficulty, we will also publicise how people can access the support they need.

“The Council has an emergency Social Fund to help residents who are in financial crisis.

“Universal Credit claimants who are in financial crisis will be able to access this fund if they have not been able to claim an advance payment or if there are delays in Universal Credit being paid.”

People in crisis are able to contact the council online or by phone. The Social Fund team which processes applications will also be available to support claims over the Christmas period.

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The extra preparations were made after Cllr Jeffrey’s letter to the then secretary of state for work and pensions, Esther McVey, failed to get the roll-out of Universal Credit delayed.

The letter was also supported by the Conservative group leader, Cllr Philip Thompson, in a personal capacity and Redcar’s Labour MP Anna Turley.

Cons Simon Clarke MP (Image: Copyright Unknown)

Simon Clarke, the Conservative MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland did not support Cllr Jeffrey’s request.

For more information on applying for an advance payment visit www.redcar-cleveland.gov.uk or call 01642 774774.

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