THE controversial Universal Credit benefit system rolls out in Govan today.

In preparation, Glasgow has built a huge network of citywide and community-based support services in a bid to prevent the shake-up causing hardship and homelessness across the city.

The city council is funding a £2million project to help Glaswegians transitioning to Universal Credit; a contested benefit that has seen rent arrears and foodbank use soar elsewhere in the UK.

Support includes a new network of 19 Universal Credit Hubs, spread across the city, along with a free helpline and live webchat.

The likes of Glasgow Life, HSCP Homelesness, Glasgow Association for Mental Health, Glasgow Disability Alliance and Citizens’ Advice bureaus across the city will also be on hand to offer help.

Glasgow will also work with the Department for Work and Pensions to pilot a new way of handling claims made by its most vulnerable citizens – with the aim of reducing benefit sanctions.

City Treasurer, councillor Allan Gow said: “Every town and city across the UK has its own Universal Credit horror story – from massive spikes in demand for foodbanks, to landlords refusing to house claimants because of rent arrears.

“Glasgow has more experience of dealing with this sort of challenge than almost anywhere – and we are very fortunate to have solid support networks that we can build on.

“But the fact we felt it was essential to invest heavily in those networks and the resilience of our communities, just to survive Universal Credit, tells you all you need to know.

“We’re not aware of any other city or community building support for Universal Credit claimants on this kind of scale.”

Universal Credit replaces six benefits with one monthly payment and is already being claimed by single jobseekers. From today, anyone in Govan who would previously have made a claim to Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Income support, Working and Child Tax Credit and Housing Benefit will instead claim Universal Credit.

Govan Jobcentre is the first office to move to the new benefit. Laurieston and Newlands will follow on September 26, with Partick and Springburn joining from October 31. The final Jobcentres to roll-out the system will be Castlemilk, Drumchapel, and Shettleston on December 5, three weeks before Christmas.

A free helpline – 0808 169 9901 – launched today and online resources with a new webchat service is available at