People have used interactive TV, smartphone apps and social media to access Universal Credit (UC) information and viewed more than 100,000 pages of content, as the new benefit continues to roll out.
Widening access to Universal Credit content across a range of digital devices is proving popular with claimants and helping to boost digital skills, with around 15,000 hits a month since it launched in October 2013 according to digital content provider Looking Local.
A range of digital information channels have been designed by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), in partnership with Looking Local, to give millions of people who do not have internet access in their homes the support to find important information about the new benefit, as well as reminding people of their increased responsibilities to look for work.
People can now search for jobs while they’re on the move by using Universal Jobmatch on their smartphones, as part of the government’s long-term economic plan to help people move off benefits and into work.
Minister for Welfare Reform, Lord Freud, said:
Universal Credit is revolutionising the benefit system by making it simple and flexible and helping to make work pay as part of the government’s long-term economic plan.
Already we know that over 90% of claims to Universal Credit are made online in our pathfinder areas and it is essential that we give the public as much choice as possible over how they find out information about the new benefit.
We have created a benefit that’s fit for the 21st century. It is great to see people are already accessing Universal Credit information when they are on the move, using their smartphones, or at home on their TVs and games consoles.
Sky and Virgin customers who have interactive TV can simply scroll through the menu to the relevant page to view a raft of information, including checking their eligibility for Universal Credit and learning how they can make a claim.
Universal Credit information is also available on Facebook as well as on more than 50 smartphone apps across the local government and housing sectors and the national ‘My Council’ app.
In a groundbreaking development, Looking Local has also designed the only public sector service interface for a games console, which Wii users can now use to view the details.
Popular pages include the Universal Credit eligibility checker, along with information about the claimant journey and what people need to do to prepare for Universal Credit.
In addition to the 100,000 hits on Universal Credit content, Looking Local’s channels and apps have enabled over 360,000 job searches with Universal Jobmatch so far this year and give direct access to a range of budgeting, financial and consumer advice from the Money Advice Service.
With Universal Credit expanding to more Jobcentres in the North West and to couples from this summer, claimants will further benefit from the choice of digital access to this key information.
UC is a vital welfare reform that merges 6 benefits into 1. It will ensure we have a welfare system that means people are always better off in work than on benefits and we are a country that truly backs those who work hard and want to get on.
It is the most radical redesign of the benefits system this country has ever seen, replacing the current costly, outdated process with a digital system that will be simpler to use and make work pay.
Looking Local is owned by Kirklees Council. It has delivered public sector content across digital channels for more than 10 years. It enables public sector organisations to deliver their services on these additional channels without the financial or resource overheads.
In addition to the Universal Credit content, Looking Local works with Universal Jobmatch and The Money Advice Service and is able to link the three services together.
According to the ONS Internet Access Quarterly Update for Quarter 1 2014, over 6 million adults had never used the internet.
Read more about Looking Local
To access information on Universal Credit using the new range of measures:
- download the smartphone app from the App Stores by searching for “My Council”
- on Sky go to channel 539 and press the red button
- on Virgin go to Channel 233 and press the red button, or on the remote control chose Home, Interactive, Sports, News and Info, Looking Local
- on a mobile, internet enabled games console see – www.lookinglocal.gov.uk
- on Facebook then select ‘Local Services’ in the tool bar
Read latest figures showing the number of UC claimants to February 2014
Media enquiries for this press release – 0203 267 5109
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