More than a third of overall Universal Credit claims have been made during the coronavirus pandemic, official figures reveal.
Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) show that 4.5 million claims for the benefit were made between 13 March 2020 and 14 January 2021, representing 39 per cent of the 11.4 million claims submitted since Universal Credit was introduced in 2013.
4.9m UK households on Universal Credit
The latest figures show there were 4.9 million households on Universal Credit in November 2020, an increase of 2.2 million since March 2020. Around 85 per cent of those claiming the benefit received a payment, and more than a third of claimants were families with children.
The DWP figures show, as of November 2020, 1.8 million families with children were claiming Universal Credit - a 51 per cent rise from March 2020.
Also revealed was an increase in the proportion of households without children receiving payments, with the figure sitting at 59 per cent in November 2020, up from 54 per cent in March 2020.
The data showed a spike in the number of Universal Credit claims at the beginning of the pandemic, and also a rise in claims in the weeks coinciding with the lockdown in November 2020 and January 2021.
Minister for welfare delivery Will Quince said: “Universal Credit continues to support millions of people during their time of need.
“It is a vital safety net that has stood up to the challenge of the pandemic, and with thousands of new work coaches we are helping claimants across the country get back on their feet with one-to-one tailored support.”
Plea to extend extra £20 per week
The child poverty charity Save the Children has urged the Government to extend the £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit. The increase is set to end in March, as the charity warns that many families will be left relying on food banks or pushed into debt once it ends.
Becca Lyon, head of Save the Children, said: “Providing support for only another six months just won’t cut it. The increase to Universal Credit in March last year was a clear recognition by the UK Government that people who had lost work during the pandemic needed extra financial support.
“Yet, as furlough ends, hundreds of thousands of people will sadly lose their jobs over the next few months and will need a helping hand.
“It is this very group of people that the UK Government deemed necessary to help less than a year ago, and yet it now plans to take this lifeline away from them at the very time they will need it the most.”