The UC:Us Guide to Universal Credit is the first of its kind in the UK. It has been produced by researchers from the Ulster University and the University of York working together with a group of Universal Credit claimants in Northern Ireland.
Its aim is to support new Universal Credit claimants to navigate the complicated application process, providing essential information about Universal Credit in an engaging format, highlighting problems the participants encountered in their real-life experience.
Law Centre NI was proud to be involved in the project with our friends at Housing Rights.
Anna Hughes, Law Centre NI’s Policy Officer, writes about the experience:
“Law Centre NI became involved with UC:Us at an early stage because we loved the idea of recipients of Universal Credit being given a platform to share their experience and knowledge of life on Universal Credit. It seemed only fitting that those who had lived experience of Universal Credit, those new to the benefit and those experiencing challenges got to share that expertise with policymakers.
Creating this guide has been an absolute privilege for all of us at Law Centre NI. Everything you see and read was directed and inspired by UC:Us participants – all of whom had a shared desire to create changes for the better. As Policy Officer, I attended meetings with UC:Us participants and listened to their experiences, concerns and knowledge of Universal Credit. It was an incredibly enlightening experience. Hearing their experiences first-hand was inspiring and I wanted to ensure that the tone and content of the guide reflected everything that had been shared. While it can be easy to get caught up in the detail, listening to their stories motivated me to ensure certain characteristics of Universal Credit, which had been a hurdle to participants, were accurately explained.
Some issues with Universal Credit can only be identified by those who are living on the benefit. We must extend our thanks to all who are a part of UC:Us for highlighting these issues to Law Centre NI and on the website. It is invaluable learning which we will carry forward in all our work on social security.
I spoke with Law Centre NI’s Director, Ursula O’Hare, about the UC:Us guide and why it was important for the Law Centre to be involved.
“The Law Centre has a long history of working with communities to use the law as a tool for social change. Through our policy advocacy work, we have consistently highlighted the principle of ‘effective participation’. This is a concept found in international human rights law whereby persons affected by government policies have an opportunity to be involved in the policy process. UC:Us is an excellent example of how effective participation can work in a local setting and we are delighted to support the initiative”.
As a result of this truly collaborative approach, we now have an informative guide, written with a real desire to ensure that anyone claiming Universal Credit has access to information and advice every step of the way. Law Centre NI is here for anyone who needs any further help so please do get in touch with us if you have any queries or concerns about Universal Credit. You can find more information on our website www.lawcentreni.org or by calling our advice line on 028 9024 4401.”