HOPEFUL Universal Credit applicants should apply for the benefit later in the evening or in the early hours of the morning for the best chance to get through online.
As you can apply for Universal Credit 24/7 online, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which processes applications, has revealed (see the chart below) the busiest and quietest times to apply.
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It warns that between 11am and 2pm is when it is busiest with up to 150,000 people trying to access the service at any one time online.
This includes people trying to apply for the first time and registered claimants who are logging on for updates on their claim.
But towards the end of the day these numbers tail off with fewer than 50,000 people trying to access the service from around 9pm.
This means from this time onwards you're likely to have more luck both applying for the first time and getting updates on existing claims.
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Of course, if you're able to stay awake or you can set your alarm, then the very quietest point of day to get through online is around 4am.
Workers who've been laid off due to coronavirus and the self-employed who can no longer run their businesses in lockdown have been advised to check if they qualify for Universal Credit.
It comes as chancellor Rishi Sunak has upped the amount you can get under the benefit by £1,000 a year from April, as well as removing the minimum income floor for the self-employed.
But it's meant huge delays trying to sign up for the benefit both online and over the phone.
DWP is having to draft in around 10,000 existing staff to meet increased demand, as well as recruiting 1,500 extra people.
How to contact Universal Credit
HERE’S how to get in touch with Universal Credit:
- Through your online account here
- By calling the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644 (Textphone: 0800 328 1344)
- By NGT text relay if you cannot hear or speak on the phone: 18001 then 0800 328 5644
- In Welsh language on 0800 328 1744.
It's also put benefit reviews and assessments on hold for three months so staff can instead focus on processing new applications.
The DWP said last week that almost half a million people have claimed Universal Credit in the past few weeks, and this figure is likely to have risen since.
Most people have to apply to the new welfare system via the Gov.uk website, starting by setting up an online account.
Once you've done this you'll need to be interviewed by a work coach over the phone in order to complete your application.
Brits are currently banned from visiting any jobcentre in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.
And unfortunately, there isn't any other way of getting in touch with DWP at the moment, until it is able to increase capacity.
See How to claim Universal Credit if you’re self-employed or have lost your job for more information.
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