Digital Barriers To Claiming Benefits
One of our research volunteers Ellie has been looking at the barriers our community faces when trying to claim benefits, looking particularly at the difficulties that can arise when dealing with the online aspects of benefits. Due to the introduction of Universal Credit, sorting out benefits online is all the more challenging.
Here is a synopsis Ellie gave for her project:
“My research is in collaboration with Knowsley Citizens Advice and was organised through Interchange, a registered charity which connects higher education students with local organisations to create research which can benefit both parties. Since September I have been working to find out how the roll out of Universal Credit online has and will impact residents in the Knowsley area. I have conducted focus groups and interviews to try and find out the barriers to accessing the internet and online services, and have worked to make recommendations to the Bureau of how they could help remedy these barriers. This research will hopefully make a difference to those who may need to apply for Universal Credit in the near future.”
Here are some of the things that have become digital barriers within the community:
- Not everyone can afford to pay for internet in their homes in order to get access to their benefits or may not know where to access free internet.
- Even if a computer is available, navigating the benefits website without guidance may be difficult, especially with people not confident in using computers.
- People of all ages need to claim for benefits, whether it’s being able to afford technology to access benefits or not being experienced in using the internet.
- Claimants with health issues or illnesses that struggle when using the benefits website may feel increased levels of anxiety and stress, which can make them feel more ill.
Knowing this, we have looked at how Knowsley Citizens Advice can help overcome these barriers:
- We will speak to organisations, such as libraries, to find out and advertise when and where free internet access is available and free courses to help people gain more confidence with using computers.
- We will work with job centers so that they understand your needs when it comes to benefits online and so they can help you find somewhere to access free internet.
- We will continue to research digital barriers and how using the benefits website can be easier for the community.
For more information about Digital Barriers research you can watch this video.
We have presented to local organisations on the research findings to raise awareness of the importance of signposting free internet.
We have also built relationships with local organisations to support and promote the work they do to help those affected by digital exclusion in Knowsley.
We have worked with the council to promote free internet access in Knowsley and are currently top of search engines for free internet access.
We hope to scope more research on Pop Up Citizens Advice so we can work with people who are digitally excluded in Knowsley.