A TAUNTON charity is offering to help people struggling with their finances during the coronavirus crisis.

Citizens Advice Taunton is continuing to run its Help to Claim service for people who need to apply for Universal Credit during lockdown.

Advisers offer confidential support from the application through to the first payment from their own homes via the phone and through webchat.

To access assistance call 0800 144844 or via www.citizensadvice.org.uk/helptoclaim

Recent research from Citizens Advice shows one fifth of UK adults have applied or expect to apply for benefits as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Locally, the charity has already helped 2,800 people with Universal Credit since the full service rollout started in Taunton in October 2016. Nationally, more than a quarter of a million people have been supported through the Help to Claim service.

Rhoda Cooke, operations and advice manager at Citizens Advice Taunton, said: "We know many households in Taunton Deane are struggling to make ends meet as a result of the current crisis.

"People are having to turn to the welfare system who’ve never used it before.

"It’s more important than ever that they are supported, so we’ve rapidly changed our ways of working to deliver our Help to Claim service remotely.

"We offer free, independent, impartial and confidential advice to people from our community every day.

"We’ve seen first-hand what can happen when people struggle to make a claim for Universal Credit, and we know how vital our service is to them.

"Anyone who needs help with their application, please get in touch with us either over the phone or online over webchat. You don’t have to face this alone."