25/05/18: New interim customer support to be made available in Breckland towns

25 May 2018

A new interim service is to be made available in three of Breckland's market towns to provide support to residents when a new national benefits system is rolled out in the district. The interim service will also help people develop their digital skills, which will help them make use of online options when contacting their district council in the future.

Breckland Council is launching the new interim service during the week commencing June 4 and it will be available two half-days a week within Norfolk County Council-led libraries in Attleborough, Watton and Swaffham:

  • Attleborough: Monday pm (2pm to 5pm) and Thursday am (10am to 2pm)
  • Swaffham: Tuesday am (10am to 1pm) and Friday pm (1pm to 5pm)
  • Watton: Monday am (10am to 1pm) and Wednesday pm (1pm to 5pm)

People making use of the new service will be able to seek advice from Breckland Council's customer services staff as well as making use of the free access to computers which will be needed to submit Universal Credit applications. Universal Credit replaces a number of other existing benefits, such as Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, and Working Tax Credit.

Last year, Breckland decided to reorganise its customer services in light of a rise in online contacts, falling face-to-face enquiries at its small satellite offices in Attleborough, Watton and Swaffham, and in anticipation of the roll out of Universal Credit.

However, since this decision was made last year, the roll-out of Universal Credit has been delayed by DWP until mid-June for Dereham and its surrounding areas and mid-September for Thetford and the surrounding areas.

The new interim service, which is expected to be operated for 12 months from June, will mean support remains available in each of Breckland's towns to help people transition to the new Universal Credit system and improve their digital skills.

Cllr Alison Webb, Breckland's Executive Member for People and Information, said: "Libraries are an excellent environment for local people to develop and use the digital skills, particularly if they may need to apply for Universal Credit in the future, as there is free public access to PCs as well as printing and scanning equipment and digital skills training available.

"It also means our residents will also be able to make even greater use of the increasingly broad options that Breckland Council is making available online, including online application forms, e-payments, and forms to report local issues. This will stand them in good stead for the future, after the interim service comes to an end."