Almost two dozen claimants needed help with a controversial new benefit system during its full rollout.

The figures were revealed at a meeting of Connah’s Quay Town Council where members slammed how the new benefit had impacted on residents, branding it a “disaster”.

A report by Citizens Advice Flintshire detailed how 21 people using the new Universal Credit system approached the service for support during its rollout in April.

That figure represents about 10 per cent of all new claims across Flintshire.

The report, shared with Connah’s Quay Town Council and seen by the Leader, indicated the most common issue dealt with by officers related to calculation of the new benefit and ensuring claimants were receiving the correct amount.

Cllr Bernie Attridge said some residents were being left with the choice of “heat or eat”.

The highest number of claimants (14) were aided at Shotton Jobcentre, while the most common age group were claimants between 25 and 34 and 35 and 44.

According to the report, an issue that became apparent early on was HMRC tax credit helpline staff informing clients they could no longer claim tax credits because they lived in a Universal Credit area.

Citizens Advice Flintshire also recorded case studies of some using the new benefit – which included incidents whereby claimants were cut off while on the phone to helplines, left struggling to pay for food after deductions were made and relying on a food voucher, and a woman unable to provide support for herself and her baby.

At the meeting Cllr Ian Dunbar said it had been a “total disaster” with people waiting up to six weeks to receive money.

He called on the town council to write to their MP and AM, Mark Tami and Carl Sargeant respectively, as
well as the minister responsible to ask for the suspension of the full rollout until “these terrible issues are sorted out”.

Cllr Attridge added: “We were the guinea pigs and I’m telling you, people owed five months and thousands of pounds to their landlords because of this.

“People are choosing to heat or to eat and to roll it out fully would cause carnage and chaos.”