Councillors express concern over CAB’s ability to handle Universal Credit support

editorial image

Members of North Lanarkshire Council have expressed concern that the Citizens Advice Bureau lacks the resources to support Universal Credit claimants.

The Department of Work and Pensions recently announced that the Citizens Advice network of charities would provide support to help people with making a Universal Credit claim.

This service will be replace that currently provided by local authorities from April.

At a meeting of the Finance and Organisational Business committee the council’s depute leader Paul Kelly praised the work of CAB, but stated he did believe it was best placed to deliver this particular service.

He said: “It is no reflection on the CAB which does excellent work but it does not have the reach to deliver this service and vulnerable people, particularly those without access to a local CAB, will be left to sort things out by themselves.”

North Lanarkshire provost Jean Jones is worried CABs will struggle with the sheer number of people needing help with Universal Credit.

She said: “I doubt they can cope with the workload. There are hundreds of people on Universal Credit now and that number is increasing sharply. CABs are already facing a lot of pressure from current levels of demand.”

However, Councillor Tommy Morgan argued that it was CAB who wanted to take on this role and they will have to find a way of making it work.

He said: “CAB took this on willingly, they are experts at lobbying. CAB are willing beneficiaries of the funding for this and it is now up to them to deliver on it.”

The councillors agreed that Councillor Kelly would raise the matter at the next meeting of COSLA he attended.

A spokesman for Citizens Advice Scotland said:  “There are five local CABs in North Lanarkshire and all of them have trained expert advisers offering free, impartial and confidential support to people who are having problems with Universal Credit.”